Et Cetera 1 of 7 ‘stung’


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Seven Iowa City businesses failed a police sting last week — including one whose liquor license is already on the line.

Et Cetera, 118 S. Dubuque St., was one of the seven whose employees failed to abide by state law, according to police.

Iowa City police conducted alcohol-compliance checks at 44 businesses on Nov. 12 using plainclothes officers and underage people who attempted to buy alcohol.

As of Sunday, Administrative Law Judge Margaret LaMarche had yet to make a decision on whether to uphold the Iowa City City Council’s decision in July to revoke Et Cetera’s liquor license. The bar appealed to the state Alcohol Beverages Division on Oct. 23.

But state officials said the recent failed sting won’t factor into the establishment’s fate.

Lynn Walding, the Alcoholic Beverages Division administrator, said since the failed sting occurred after Et Cetera’s appeal, it has no bearing on the current case.

“Reviews are based only on the records from the hearing,” Walding said.

While councilors agree it’s a separate issue, Mayor Regenia Bailey said it’s a troubling one.

“It makes sense to me that it wouldn’t factor in; the state level has got to look at the facts of what was brought before it,” she said. “But is it concerning? Of course.”

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Councilor Mike O’Donnell said it’s not the City Council’s goal to shut down businesses, just to ensure they abide by the liquor laws.

Et Cetera was one of the first bars, along with 3rd Base, 111 E. College St., to face the Iowa City City Council since the new guidelines to renew liquor licenses went into effect July 1. The new policy directs Iowa City Police Chief Sam Hargadine to recommend license denials to the City Council if bars have a ratio of more than one PAULA per police visit.

Councilors denied both establishments liquor-license renewals.

Since the denial, Et Cetera owner George Etre has worked closely with Iowa City to monitor the number of underage drinkers in his bar.

George Etre told The Daily Iowan on Oct. 23 that his employees were making changes to the bar’s operations.

“We’ve been monitoring more closely, using dual wristbands, training staff, and working with the Police Department,” he said.

Iowa City police Sgt. Troy Kelsay also told the DI on Oct. 23 that Etre’s efforts to reduce underage drinking establishment are “genuine.”

“He wants to keep his doors open, be a good neighbor, and be a good citizen,” he said.

Both Etre and Kelsay could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

The state has yet to announce what Et Cetera’s punishment for failing the sting will be. But other bars that have failed alcohol compliance checks in the past have set a precedent for a high price to pay.

Vito’s, 118 E. College St., is facing a 30-day liquor-license suspension starting Jan. 19 for selling alcohol to minors twice in a two-year period, along with a fine of $1,500, unless the bar’s owners appeal — which, according to public records, they have not.

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