Twenty-nine bars and restaurants were investigated by undercover agents in New Jersey and raided due to confidential informants and consumer accounts of being served cheap liquors after paying for premium liquors.
In an eye-catching story published in the New Jersey Law Journal, a T.G.I. Fridays franchisee agreed to settle a suit for $500,000 and other conditions for “selling cheap liquor masquerading as high-end brands.” The Acting Attorney General John Hoffman stated, “Briad’s restaurants were scamming customers by serving them a cheap substitute for what the ordered. . . . This fine should send a clear message to every bar and restaurant throughout New Jersey that customers should get what the pay for every time without exception.”
In “Operation Swill” investigators from the division of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) and the Division of Criminal Justice raided thirteen T.G.I. Fridays franchises. The Law Journal reported that undercover investigators visited sixty-three establishments in January and February to inconspicuously take one hundred and fifty samples. The drinks were ordered as ‘neat,’ with no ice, water, or other mixer, and then tested in a lab. Two days following the raids, the Journal reported two Monmouth County residents filed a putative class action against Briad. Additionally, eight of the Briad establishments are encompassed in the $500,000 settlement.
The money settlement is not the only condition. The Journal stated that Briad agreed to employ an ABC-appointed monitor lasting until June 30, 2014. “The monitor will have the full cooperation of Briad’s restaurants and its employees as well as access to all books, records, compensation programs and any other information the monitor deems appropriate. The compliance officer will then report his findings to the ABC.” Furthermore, a five-day suspension was imposed for each establishment that will be held in abeyance until the end of the same date and the suspensions will be dismissed if no charges of the same offense are filed.