Aldi, Food City, Walmart and more cited for selling wine to underage decoy

Aldi, Food City, Walmart and more cited for selling wine to underage decoy

June 16th, 2017 by Tim Omarzu in Business Diary

A rogue 19-year-old cashier at the Food City supermarket in East Brainerd didn't bother to use the actual birth date of customers buying beer and wine.

Instead, the cashier typed in the same birth date — 02-02-1960 — for roughly 250 customers since her hire date in February.

That caught up with Food City on May 23, when she sold wine to an underage decoy.

At its meeting Thursday, the Chattanooga Beer Board gave Food City the option of paying a $1,000 fine or suspending its beer sales for three days.

"If they did it over 200 times, why didn't somebody notice that?" asked Beer Board Chairman Chris Keene.

Food City officials said they now check to make sure cashiers aren't using the same birth date over and over again.

"We take this seriously. Me personally and as a company," said Rick Bishop, vice president of operations for Food City in Chattanooga.

Other supermarkets caught up in the May 23 sting were the Walmart Neighborhood Market at 4110 Shallowford Road, where a cashier typed in his or her own birth date and sold wine to the decoy, resulting in the choice between a $1,500 fine or three-day suspension.

The Aldi on Highway 153 got the stiffest penalty, a 14-day suspension that starts on June 22, because the store manager didn't show up for the Beer Board meeting.

"I think we need to go another step for [violators] not appearing," Keene said.

Food City got the lightest penalty, because after the May 23 sale, its cashiers all went through a training from the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Walmart didn't take that step.

Other businesses caught up in the May 23 sting that were penalized Thursday by the Beer Board were Amigo's Mexican Restaurant at 5786 Brainerd Road, which got a 14-day suspension because no one from the restaurant showed at the meeting.

The choice of a three-day suspension or $1,000 fine was given to Spare Time Chattanooga, a combination bowling alley, arcade, laser tag arena, full-service restaurant and bar at 5518 Brainerd Road that opened last year inside what used to be Holiday Bowl.

Mexi-Wing VII at 5773 Brainerd Road got the option of a three-day beer license suspension or a $1,500 fine.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or www. facebook.com/MeetsForBusiness or on Twitter @meetforbusiness or 423-757-6651.