T.G.I. Fridays Franchisee Pays $500,000 For Selling Water As Booze

Can you tell top shelf booze from the cheap stuff? How about from water? Apparently, for diners at several New Jersey T.G.I. Fridays restaurants, the answer to both questions is no.

The operator of eight of the chain's restaurants in the Garden State has agreed to pay a $500,000 fine for serving customers cheap alcohol when they paid for premium. Most of that money, $400,000, is for the violation, while the last $100,000 will go toward covering costs of the investigation. The establishments, which are owned by the Livingston-based Briad Group, were raided as part of "Operation Swill" in May.

Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said on Wednesday that he hopes the fine will act as a deterrent to any other bar or restaurants in the state contemplating doing the same thing.

Briad opted not to contest the charges, meaning it will have to employ a monitor named by the state through June 14 to guarantee the restaurants and workers are in compliance. If they stay clean during that time, the businesses can avoid losing their liquor licenses to five-day suspensions.

More of the chain's restaurants could prove to be involved. As many as 13 T.G.I. Fridays had been accused of selling customers short when the raids were announced. The rest remain under investigation, while a total of 29 businesses were originally named.

A couple of the more embarrassing 'mixed drinks'? One of the 29 establishments sold customers a mixture of rubbing alcohol and caramel food coloring billed as scotch. Another didn't even make that much effort. They refilled premium liquor bottles with dirty water. Talk about a weak drink.

For more:

- See this Huffington Post story

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