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“Operation Swill” Offender to Pay $500k

A franchisee of T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants in New Jersey will pay a $500,000 fine and not contest charges that eight of its locations were serving customers alcoholic beverages other than what they ordered, officials announced today.

evidence - operation swill
Evidence from Operation Swill (Courtesy NJ Attorney General’s Office)

The Briad Group’s settlement includes its Friday’s locations in West Orange, East Windsor, Old Bridge, Piscataway, Freehold, Marlboro, Hazlet and Linden.

“Drink substitution threatens the integrity of the alcoholic beverage industry, and retailers, wholesalers and customers all lose because of this illegal activity,” said Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Director Michael Halfacre.

The restaurants were raided in May as part of “Operation Swill,” which focused on 29 establishments because of information from confidential informants, consumer complaints and testing of samples conducted by both the ABC and the manufacturers of the brands. The samples were taken in January and February when ABC investigators visited 63 licensed establishments across the state and covertly took 150 samples.

The undercover ABC detectives secured samples of premium brand spirits by paying for drinks ordered “neat,” which means with no ice or mixer. Some of the locations visited had previous complaints against them, and some were chosen at random.

The ABC tested the 150 samples using a new testing technology, a device called the True Spirit Authenticator.

This machine provides a preliminary analysis of samples in a short span of time. The samples were also sent to the laboratories of the brand manufacturers where additional testing of the samples was conducted. It was found that of the 150 samples 30 were not the brand they purported to be.

In a released statement, Briad said it’s pleased that a negotiated settlement has been reached.

In addition to the settlement, we have also made operational adjustments, initiated new training programs and redoubled our efforts to ensure that all of our restaurants adhere to Fridays’ extensive bar and beverage standards.

The following establishments were targeted in Operation Swill:

  • Railroad Café, East Rutherford
  • The Brick House, Wyckoff
  • Sunset Tavern, Burlington
  • Graziano’s Ristorante, Chesilhurst
  • Villari’s Lakeside, Gloucester Township
  • Yesterdays, Marmora
  • TGI Friday’s, West Orange
  • Italian Affair, Glassboro
  • Bells Tavern, Lambertville
  • TGI Friday’s, East Windsor
  • Brunswick Grove, East Brunswick
  • TGI Friday’s, Old Bridge
  • TGI Friday’s, North Brunswick
  • TGI Friday’s, Piscataway
  • TGI Friday’s, Freehold
  • TGI Friday’s, Marlboro
  • TGI Friday’s, Hazlet
  • Murray’s, Dover
  • TGI Friday’s, East Hanover
  • Sona Thirteen, Morristown
  • Blackthorn Restaurant, Parsippany
  • Ruby Tuesday, Bridgewater
  • TGI Friday’s, Linden
  • Café 34, Matawan
  • Applebee’s, Kearny
  • Cucina Calandara, Fairfield
  • TGI Friday’s, Hamilton
  • TGI Friday’s, Springfield
  • TGI Friday’s, Clifton

 

Townsquare Media’s Kevin McArdle contributed to this report.

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