Bar closed for serving to minors |

Bar closed for serving to minors

Kristofer B. WakefieldA notice of suspension hangs in the window of McGees Sunday for alleged violation of alcoholic beverage sales.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Nevada City bar hoppers have one less place to jump to most of this month.

McGees Annex, a popular bar on Broad Street, was shut down Jan. 2 for 20 days by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Katie Lenihan, a supervising investigator with the ABC agency, said the bar’s liquor license was suspended because of two incidents this summer that involved serving liquor to underage customers. The Nevada County Sheriff’s Department initiated the investigation.

Bar owner Richard Costello said he hasn’t closed his bar in 23 years, and he employs about 10 people who are now out of work for 20 days.

“They live on their tips,” said Costello.

The punishment was especially strict because Costello formed a corporation – of which he is president – which took over the bar in July 2001. ABC fines are lighter for bars with longstanding liquor licenses with clean records.

But “now they say I’ve only owned it for a year,” Costello said. “I had a liquor license for 22 years, now it’s only a year old.”

Investigator Lenihan said that on July 21, she and three other ABC undercover investigators went into McGees, and “we found a 20-year-old in there with no ID (identification) whatsoever.

“She made a statement that she had been patronizing the establishment for the last two years” and had never been asked to show ID, Lenihan said.

After the July 21 undercover bust, Lenihan said she requested local police reports involving McGees which led to a state investigation to track down a then 19-year-old man who had been in a victim of battery at McGees in late June.

In a sworn statement to a state investigator, the man said he had been allowed into McGees that night without showing identification and drank for two hours, Lenihan said.

Nevada County Sheriff’s Sgt. Frank Koehler said he requested this summer that the ABC agency investigate both McGees and Chief Crazy Horse, a bar on Commercial Street, because Koehler said there were numerous fights – “close to a small riot” – on Friday and Saturday nights outside both establishments.

“We were responding into the city so many times … to back up the city’s officers because of these fights. My primary concern was of some officer getting hurt,” Koehler said.

Lehnihan said the four undercover investigators also went to the Chief Crazy Horse on July 21 and caught a 20-year-old woman drinking.

“We found one in there, but she had an imposter’s ID. It was her sister’s ID,” who looked very similar to the 20-year-old, Lenihan said. “So, we did not file charges against the Crazy Horse.”

State investigators did not use decoys – undercover, underaged drinkers – to make the busts, she said. In fact, the ABC agency filed misdemeanor criminal charges against both 20-year-old women they caught drinking on July 21, Lenihan said. She didn’t know the outcome of those charges.

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