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Election day drinks result in fines
Papa Jim's and Pizza Hut guilty of liquor violations

Katherine Hudson
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Election day drinks resulted in the NWT Liquor Licensing Board fining two Yellowknife establishments Dec. 7. Pizza Hut was handed a penalty of $500 while Papa Jim's received a $300 fine.

The offences occurred on Monday, Oct. 3, the day the territory held its election for the 17th legislative assembly. According to NWT Liquor Act regulations, all establishments within the electoral district must not sell, serve or allow the consumption of alcohol until polls close - which was 8 p.m. on Oct. 3.

Liquor inspector Kerry Nicholson walked into Papa Jim's through the back door at 5:53 p.m. on election day and noted a half-filled glass of red wine at a table where two female patrons were sitting, according to the agreed statement of facts read by GNWT lawyer Erin Delaney.

Delaney said on Sept. 30, the liquor enforcement office faxed a letter to all licence holders about regulations applying to the upcoming election day.

Nicholson approached Papa Jim's owner Jim Hudym, who showed Nicholson that he had posted the letter on the kitchen window.

Delaney said Nicholson next approached the server, who put his head in his hands and said, "I totally forgot."

Delaney said since the event was a first offence for the establishment, the licence holder acknowledged the violation occurred and there was an effort to prevent the violation from happening, the GNWT was asking for a fine of $300.

"I posted (the letter) ... We just had a little hiccup and someone forgot," said Hudym at the hearing in front of four liquor board members at the Yellowknife Inn. "I've never been in this position before. I think it's a fair penalty."

Later that evening, Delaney said Nicholson walked toward Pizza Hut at around 6:56 p.m. and before entering the restaurant, noticed through the front window a wide glass decanter on a table occupied by two female patrons.

He then entered through the back door of the restaurant, checked its liquor licence and noted the beer fridge was locked with the faxed letter from the liquor enforcement office taped on the fridge door.

Nicholson walked to the front of the restaurant and saw the wine decanter was no longer on the table. He asked the supervisor to print the receipt for the table and saw the glass of wine on the receipt. Nicholson then asked the waitress if either of the women at the table had ordered wine, to which she responded, "no."

When asked why the receipt stated that wine had been ordered at the table, the waitress said she had rung in the drink, but then remembered she wasn't allowed to serve alcohol on election day.

Nicholson approached the two patrons at the table and asked if either of them had ordered and consumed wine, to which one answered she had.

The waitress said she knew who Nicholson was, was scared and did not want him to find out she served alcohol. Nicholson told the waitress he could charge her for lying to a peace officer.

"We made a mistake," said Pizza Hut owner Phat Vodoan at the hearing.

Colin Baile, chair of the liquor board, said the licence holder admitted the establishment's guilt and he was proactive in posting the regulations in plain view of staff.

"On the other side of the coin, it's a concern the server attempted to deceive the liquor inspector," he said.

Both establishments must pay their fines by Jan. 7, 2012.

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