Be it federal, state, or local, Government is a right bastard. You should never, ever trust it, it’s always a mistake.
Liquor Regulators Are Seeking Revenge on Bars That Broke Pandemic Rules
“The people who violated the governor’s mandates and orders should face some consequences,” a Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board member said in 2022.
During the height of the pandemic summer of 2020, the proprietors of the Burning Bridge Tavern worked with local officials in Wrightsville, Pennsylvania, to host a series of outdoor gatherings for the community.
For their trouble, the bar’s owners got slapped with a series of citations by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), the government agency that oversees and manages the sale of alcohol in the state. The citations were ticky-tack offenses, according to Burning Bridge’s chief financial officer, Mike Butler. Twice, the bar was cited for noise violations because they’d allowed a band playing at the gathering to plug into the tavern’s electricity supply. Another offense occurred when the owners and some family members were drinking inside the tavern, which was closed to the public, during a period when indoor dining was prohibited.
A frustrating situation, but not the end of the world. Burning Bridge’s owners paid the fines associated with the citations and assumed that was that. But then the bar had to renew its liquor license.
Fines, be assured, that amounted to thousands of dollars— dollars already hard to come by in the best of times given the extremely thin profit margins all bars and restaurants struggle with in normal times, orders of magnitude moreso under the draconian and entirely contra-Constitutional FauxVid rules of play.
Not the end of the world, perhaps, but having worked in a good few of them over the years I can tell you with absolute certainty that in the bar/restaurant business there simply ain’t no such thing as “extra money.” But as if all that weren’t enough:
“They denied it. They said, ‘Oh, you’re the guys that got all those citations,'” Butler says. “It was a real gut punch.”
Turns out, over the past two years the PLCB has pushed dozens of Pennsylvania establishments that racked up pandemic-related citations to sign “conditional licensing agreements” to renew their liquor permits. In some cases, those agreements have forced the sale of licenses—but in most cases, as with Burning Bridge, they’ve added additional conditions to the license that could prevent a future renewal from being approved.
While the PLCB cannot revoke existing licenses, the board is empowered to object to the renewal of a license or to demand the license can only be renewed conditionally. “In extreme cases,” PLCB Press Secretary Shawn Kelly says, the PLCB can force the sale of a liquor license, though the board only pursues that option when “there is an operational and citation history that calls for such an agreement.”
Even though Burning Bridge’s owners weren’t forced to sell their license, Butler says signing the conditional licensing agreement has come with real costs: The bar’s insurance premium tripled as a result of being viewed as a greater risk.
Assuming BBT isn’t part of a bar/restaurant chain, the owners don’t by any stretch have what you might call deep pockets. So taken altogether, the bruising punishment inflicted by the state of Pennsylvania might NOT be “the end of the world” for them, no. But it could very well be the end of their sojourn in the bar biz.
As I always say, seems like there ought to be some way we could thank the “people” responsible adequately for it. I just can’t for the life of me imagine what it might be.
Update! Can’t leave out the closing ‘graph, which sums up the whole contretemps perfectly.
“The feeling was that our government really isn’t working to try and help us,” says Butler. “At this point, it feels like they’re coming after us.”
A-yup. That’s because they, y’know, ARE. You now, and eventually all the rest of us right along with you. Unpleasant as that is to get our heads around, as difficult as it can be for Real Americans naturally inclined to patriotism and faith in their institutions to choke down and accept, that’s the ugly reality nonetheless. The harder we resist admitting it to ourselves, the rougher it’s going to be when we do come around at last.
Which, sooner or later, one way or another, we’re all gonna have to, like it or not. Think of oversized, intrusive, all-powerful government as a sickness with only one effective treatment. It’s some bad, bad medicine—sure to leave a bitter taste that will linger for a long, long time—but before we can hope to be cured, the body politic fully restored to health, a full dose is going to have to be swallowed.