As reported here on WPN, a sting called "Operation Swill" recently raided 29 bars and restaurants, 13 of which were T.G.I. Fridays, on accusations that they were selling customers cut-rate alcohol and claiming it was top-shelf product. Today massive fines came down from state authorities to the operators of those restaurants.
The Briad Group, who owns the restaurants, has been fined $500,000 for violating the right of the consumer to receive what they pay for. The fine consists of $400,000 for the violations that were found and an additional $100,000 for investigative costs.
While the group has been apologetic and even instituted new training policies, they are still under investigation for the incidents. The most damning pieces of evidence against them are claims by two women that it was company policy to replace top-shelf liquor with cheaper alternatives. If that was the case, then the company would have been in violation of New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act. If found guilty Briad would face more huge fines and would be ordered to reimburse customers.
It is not reassuring that the group's settlement with the state including a clause that they are not allowed to contest the charges that they sold customers sub-par product. They also agreed to have state monitors present in those restaurants to ensure they were selling the proper liquor.
If they avoid further violations they will not suffer any suspensions of their liquor licenses, but if the violations are found to have been part of company policy then bigger problems will be on the horizon.