Monday, January 11, 2016

Quite The Party

Panda East:  Restaurant with a $3,500 "all alcohol on premises liquor license" (now endangered)

Scroll down for update

I would imagine you could forgive a busy establishment in a college town missing a single patron in a large crowd of "college aged youth" whereby a determined 20-year-old with a fake I.D. manages to acquire alcohol.

But you really have to wonder about that establishment when they miss 17 patrons who were all underage with many of them with not even so much as a fake I.D.  

Yes, I said seventeen.  And the alcohol they acquired was one of the more expensive drinks offered on the menu:  Scorpion bowls.

Scorpion Bowls at the ready back in October on a Thursday night

The Amherst Select Board, acting as the town's Liquor Commissioners, at the request of Amherst Police Chief Scott Livingstone will hold a Hearing tonight to decide how to deal with this egregious violation.

UPDATE:  7:45 PM

Select Board votes unanimously to suspend liquor license for two days -- January 25 and January 26 -- for the 17 counts of underage drinking violation.

Also placed another 5 days worth of suspensions on hold for two years as a form of probation, or what District Court calls a "continuation without a finding."  As long as there are no other violations the 5 day suspension is terminated after the two years are up.


Anonymous said...

LOL, Panda has been famous for this since at least 1987. I was a beneficiary of their lax policy at that time. And the town is just now figuring it out?

Anonymous said...

It seems it was AT LEAST 17 people as the staff scrambled to collect drinks from tables. The place has good food, probably the best Chinese food in the area but on weekends they get so busy it is easy to imagine this happening. The staff is very nice almost too nice. On weekends they need an experienced person at the front door check IDs for people who look in teh 18-29 year old range. Then if they person is over 21 give them a wrist band and stamp their hand.

Anonymous said...

It is really to bad that the person named on the police report felt the need to do this. Neither the restaurant nor its customers were making trouble. Seriously, we need to provide guidance and safe spaces for youth and alcohol. This (was) one of them, a scorpion bowl rite of passage.

Larry Kelley said...

Not sure if that is sarcasm or not.

Obviously the problem with underage drinking is they are less experienced at it, thus more of a danger to themselves and everyone else should they get behind of the wheel of a car to return to campus.

Anonymous said...

Larry we're in college. Let us drink and let us have fun. The town of Amherst seriously has nothing to do with their time. Panda East gets a lot of their business from these underage students ordering scorpion bowls. Like someone said, it's a rite of passage. I'm sure you miss being young...

Larry Kelley said...

Tell that to the loved ones of a kid on a motorcycle who gets cut in half by a drunk driver.

Anonymous said...

Kids are gonna drink no matter what, you're never going to stop it. For years now they've been invading Panda East at 7 PM Thursday-Saturday. Never bothered anyone, never a problem. I say pick your battles....

And Larry...these kids aren't driving to Panda. They're walking, taking the bus or piling into an Uber.

Larry Kelley said...

Only takes one to ruin a family forever.

And when 17 were caught, and it sounds like a bunch more got away, it's not hard to believe at least one of them drove.

Anonymous said...

Larry, you might want to consider redacting the caller's and identified party's SSNs from the publicly posted police report...

Please Don't Come Back From The Moon said...


Anonymous said...

As a crippled for life victim of a hit and run drunk DUI driving criminal who was a youthful bar hopper, I lost everything, now I am the social pariah, not the drunk. Merchant's of Death are cold hearted snakes,take YOUR life for a few quid !!!

Larry Kelley said...

Thanks Anon 4:31 PM.

I should have noticed that.

Anonymous said...

If you were a real reporter, you'd be fired right about now. If anyone had grounds for a lawsuit, this will do.

Walter Graff said...

As a person who visits Panda East every Friday night (best Chinese in Amherst area) I can tell you I have watched them card college-age patrons I've seen in the last year or so. I'd expect to see that being done and if I saw them serving to what looked like underage, I would probably say something to management.

I would be surprised by this post except for one thing. I was there that weekend and the place was a mob house. It was end of the semester and every student wants to get their last licks in before going home.

I would probably venture to say that outside of the two older staff who regularly card patrons, they recently hired two or three new, young staff. One in particular is very green to America. I'd imagine they simply got stupid and overwhelmed and didn't do their job. It's a shame because I have been pleased with their procedure for carding in the past from what I've seen.

It certainly is a place to get a bowl of liquor and food and I don't see anything wrong with that. I do have an issue with them not carding students who are the primary customer on Friday and Saturday night. As I said, I'd attribute it to poor training of the new and very green staff as I do see them card students regularly.

Anonymous said...

They were so wrong. Take their license.

Ralph Reed said...

The desire to get inebriated seems like a healthy social drive, unlike the use of dangerous transportation technology.

Anonymous said...

The wisdom one finds regularly in the comments section of this blog cannot be duplicated anywhere.

Rich Morse

Anonymous said...

Figures one snitch approves of another snitch. We all know what happens to them.

Larry Kelley said...

No, actually I don't.

Why don't you enlighten me CAN.

Anonymous said...


Sign in Get Access View Full Site
Brittini Benton of Sunderland changes plea in April 2012 crash that killed UMass student Daniel Haley

By CHAD CAIN Staff Writer
Monday, May 13, 2013
(Published in print: Tuesday, May 14, 2013)
NORTHAMPTON — A Sunderland woman admitted in court that while she cannot remember any details of the 2012 motor vehicle accident that killed a 24-year-old University of Massachusetts student, the state has enough evidence to convict her.

That April 14, 2012, crash killed Daniel Haley, 24, who was riding his motorcycle on Route 116 in Hadley, returning to Amherst from Pittsfield where he grew up. Haley was to have graduated from the UMass chemical engineering program on Friday.

In Hampshire Superior Court Monday, Brittini Benton, 25, of 118 Reservation Road, entered a so-called Alford plea on three of seven counts against her, changing a previous plea of not guilty on all charges resulting from the accident.

By agreeing to an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that the state has enough evidence for a conviction.

Benton entered the Alford plea on charges of negligent motor vehicle homicide while operating under the influence, operating under the influence with negligence and serious bodily injury and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

Four counts against Benton — manslaughter while operating a motor vehicle, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (motor vehicle) and operating under the influence of alcohol (second or subsequent offense) — were dropped.

Judge Bertha Josephson released Benton on her own recognizance on the conditions that she avoid alcohol and drugs, submit to random screenings, and not drive a motor vehicle. She is scheduled for sentencing at 2 p.m. June 27.

Haley had worked for several years at the UMass Fine Arts Center where he specialized in audio setup and mixing. He also managed crews of student workers.

According to court records, Benton was traveling south in the northbound lane of Route 116 about 2:20 a.m. when she struck the motorcycle operated by Haley, killing him, and collided with a second vehicle driven by a 57-year-old Leyden man, sending him to the hospital with broken bones.

According to investigators, beer, liquor and marijuana were found in Benton’s vehicle when it was searched. According to court records, a test of blood taken from her the morning of the crash showed her blood alcohol level was 0.179 percent, more than twice the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle in Massachusetts.

In January 2008, Benton was arrested in Hadley on a charge of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol after her car struck a tree, according to police reports. She later submitted to facts sufficient for a guilty finding on the charge, and lost her license for 210 days, was fined $550 and completed a drug and alcohol education program.


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Anonymous said...

Two day loss of licence. Is this one of those 'suspensions that they can pick the days they serve the suspension? Last year a bar in Northampton got a two day liqueur licence suspension and the bar owner was allowed to pick the two days they had to serve so long as the days were consecutive. He picked Xmass eve and Xmas to serve the suspension.

Anonymous said...

Yep! Xmas and Eve are big revenue for Chinese joints

Walter Graff said...

They were wrong to allow it. I doubt they will ever do it again (knowingly). To take away their license for good would probably put them out of business as they make all their money 7 months out of the year and I'd say liquor is a large percentage of it. I've seen them serve upwards of 75-100 of those punch-bowl drinks on a good weekend night. Considering the cheap alcohol they use to make them, the mark-up is fantastic.

Also an interesting note on the police officers report. He stated that few of the students in the restaurant had any ID on them. Having worked out of the youth division of a police department in NY some years ago I can tell you why they "had no ID". They carry illegal ID cards and restaurants like this are perfect places for passing these off as real and you wouldn't want to give a police officer one of these so easier to simply act dumb and claim you don't have any ID.

The restaurant should have a portable bar-code ID scanner in the future and simply swipe IDs for patrons ordering drinks who look young to validate their age. Now the kids will simply pass off their fake IDs when asked by the waiters. In that case the liability if APD does a sweep of the establishment will fall on the student passing the fake ID.

Anonymous said...

To serve minors alcohol is illegal. Isn't this rather cut and dried? Panda broke the law.

Walter Graff said...

Of course Panda broke the law. Fortunately with any form of licensing, violating the privilege does not mean automatic revocation. It's bad business for Amherst to loose this business so a suspension serves it's purpose and makes for a just warning. It will be interesting to see how Friday nights are doing this season. I would imagine with the fake IDs I see going around, it will not affect Pandas business that much. As I said earlier, they would be best off to purchase and ID age scanner. I'll certainly warn the owner if I see she is not abiding to the rules.

Anonymous said...

Walter Graff, it's always on Thursday. They generally serve 150-250 underage children.

Walter Graff said...

It was more than just Thursdays. The night in question was a Saturday. Good news is they are taking a one week course now in carding. The owner knows she will loose some business but she is not upset by it, more relieved that she can fix the damage. A lot of what they allowed was ignorance. She had one young employee who would go to a table and ask if the had ID. The table said yes so she would simply serve them. Many tables showed false IDs including the night of the raid where no one in the place seemed to have any ID when asked by the police. Panda is diligent about following the rules now. Tonight two tables of younger looking patrons were carded properly.

Anonymous said...

They need to fire the ass of that waitperson and get someone in there who will do the job properly.

Anonymous said...

B-b-b-but but what about "see something, say something?"

Anonymous said...

Walter Graff, that is complete non sense. The entire staff knows about this and enjoyed it thoroughly and the money it brought it in. It was not negligence it was intentional and is nothing new for them. They should be scrutinized and monitored for the next upcoming semester. They did this knowingly not by accident