T.G.I. Friday's avoided action on its all-alcohol license this week following an alleged drunken driving car accident in its parking lot a month ago, but faces the possibility of mandated police details in the future.
Restaurant representatives faced a hearing on Tuesday in front of the Board of License Commissioners, which ruled 4-1 that Friday's did not commit a violation of alcohol license regulations and so no action was necessary.
However, based on what he saw as the strong possibility that someone did actually drink too much at the restaurant last month and crash into another vehicle, and on Friday's history of alcohol-related incidents involving the Braintree police, Chair Joe Powers said that he will call company officials back to the board in the near future to discuss requiring police details on certain nights.
"I don't get the sense that management takes its obligation seriously," Powers said.
Dale Broach, the new Senior Director of Operations for T.G.I. Friday's in the Northeast, responded following the vote and said that there will be zero tolerance for alcohol incidents under his watch.
On Wednesday, May 30, when a 43-year-old Braintree man pulled his Ford F-350 out of a space in the restaurant's parking lot and hit another vehicle.
When Officer Brian Eng arrived, he said he noticed signs of intoxication, including bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and the smell of alcohol on the man's breath. Scott W. Alden was arrested and charged with operating under the influence of alcohol following field sobriety tests and a blood alcohol reading back at the station that was nearly twice the legal limit.
But calling on past cases, attorney Albert DeNapoli was able to convince all board members except Russell Forsberg that there was not definitive proof that Alden had been overserved by Friday's personnel. For one, Eng admitted that he did not know for certain that Alden was intoxicated until after the field sobriety tests. So how could a Friday's bartender or server recognize the signs, DeNapoli asked.
DeNapoli also argued that no one could prove that Alden had not drank alcohol outside of Friday's, in his truck or even by walking across the street to one of many restaurants at the South Shore Plaza. There were no credit card charges in Alden's name that night and employees testified that they did not know him.
Still, despite the board's decision, Powers said "there's too many occurrences" at the restaurant.
In January 2011, T.G.I. Friday's did not violate the terms of its alcohol license at the conclusion of a two-day, six-hour hearing involving an incident the previous December in which a New Hampshire man was found drunk and urinating outside the restaurant.
In addition, on March 23, 2010, Friday's was found by the board to have served an intoxicated person after hours and was shut down for three days. Friday's license was also suspended for one day in 2008 after the restaurant was found to have sold alcohol to an underage person.
Broach said there are plans to renovate the Forbes Road restaurant in the future and that the company may voluntarily add police details after that project, expecting increased business.