LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - A sting operation in Longview catches restaurants serving alcoholic beverages to minors. It comes in the wake of Saturday's elections, when four East Texas communities voted on propositions that would allow alcohol sales.
The Longview Police Department along with TABC and Longview Partners in Prevention are taking aggressive action as more East Texas cities adopt alcohol laws.
To crack down on businesses selling alcohol to minors, it is common for law enforcement to send "minor" decoys in to convenient stores.
"Because that's typically where minors go to get alcohol," explained Kevin Brownlee, with the Longview Police Department.
But Longview police tried something different.
"They went to restaurants," said Brownlee. "It's been brought to our attention before that juveniles are going into restaurants and purchasing alcoholic beverages and not getting carded."
They sent decoys into 15 local restaurants. Three out of those 15 sold alcohol to the undercover minors.
They were the Wing Stop on Loop 281 west, the Smashburger on Eastman Road and the Pizza Hut Wing Street on Judson Road.
We contacted managers at the restaurants, but all three declined to comment.
"To receive a permit to sell alcoholic beverages in the state of Texas, they require every business that receives a permit to undergo training and to educate their employees about the sale of alcohol in their establishment," said Brownlee.
Rebeca Rodriguez works at Tyler Street Bistro. It is one of the 12 restaurants that did not sell alcohol to the undercover minors.
"I was talking to one of my regulars, and I saw two girls come in," said Rodriguez. "One of the girls told me she wanted a Martini and I said, 'Ok, well, can I see some ID?' and she handed me her ID and she wasn't 21 until 2013 and I was like, 'I can't serve you.'"
Rodriguez says she underwent the TABC training and knows how to spot underage drinkers.
"I hope that it tells people that we actually do care and that we don't serve underage people," said Rodriguez. "We take care of the community and we try to look out for others."
"I think it shows a level of success in that the majority of restaurants we went to did not sell alcohol to minors," said Brownlee.
An example as other East Texas cities go from dry to wet.
Longview police say making alcohol available to a minor is a Class A misdemeanor and the reports will be filed with the Gregg County District Attorney's Office.
TABC also issued administrative citations to the businesses.
The twelve locations that did not sell alcohol to the undercover minors are:
Address - Business Name
508 North Eastman Road - The Jalapeno Tree
3074 North Eastman Road - Cheddars Casual Café
3072 North Eastman Road - Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar
320 Loop 281 East - Texas Roadhouse
305 Loop 281 West - Papacita's Mexican Restaurant
410 Loop 281 West - Casa Ole Mexican Restaurant
2647 Bill Owens Pkwy - The Page & Pizzeria
2100 Gilmer Rd - Pizza Hut # 9
2517 Judson Rd - Carlito's Restaurant Inc.
110 Triple Creek Dr - Posados Café Longview
280 Spur 63 - Casa Ole Mexican Restaurant
102 Tyler Street - Tyler St. Bistro