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Oak Lawn tavern socked with a $3,000 penalty

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  An Oak Lawn bar has been fined $3,000 for underage drinking and failing to have a liquor license, Mayor Sandra Bury said Monday.
  George’s Lounge, 5407 W. 95th St., was fined $500 for serving four underage patrons on Nov. 9 and an addition $1,000 for not posting a valid liquor license, the second such violation, Bury said.
  An expired liquor license was posted in the tavern, said police, who could not find a valid license in the state’s database.
  The $500 fine per violation is the minimum fine that can be assessed by mayor, who also serves as the village’s liquor commissioner. The fines were handed down one week after a village liquor commission hearing. John Cerniuk, owner of George’s Lounge, did not appear at the hearing.
  “He claims he was out of town visiting family,” Bury said.
  The underage drinking was discovered when police arrived to conduct a spot check, they said. The ID check revealed four underage patrons, one who had a fake ID, police said. The four were charged with underage drinking.
  Cerniuk denied that the four individuals were drinking at his bar, according to police reports.
  He can appeal the decision within 20 days to the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.
  Bury said she plans to meet with Cerniuk, who is making some “positive changes” to prevent additional problems his tavern, including an ID check system.
  Bury said she hopes the penalties assessed against George’s Lounge will encourage other bars to be responsible when it comes to underage drinking and adhering to the liquor code.
  “My hope is to go back to when we had excellent compliance,” she said. “My goal is compliance.”
  The liquor commission is scheduled to meet Jan. 6 at 11 a.m. for the continuation of a hearing regarding TC Pub, 9700 S. Cicero Ave.
  Police entered the bar Dec. 13 after spotting a fight and hearing loud conversation, according to reports. The bar has a 2 a.m. liquor license, but at least one person in the bar was drinking when police arrived. A bar patron was intoxicated and uncooperative with police, they said. Police also found a bag of cocaine in the office, according to reports.
  Robert Olson, owner of the establishment, said he does not know who’s responsible for the incident, which occurred at 3:38 a.m.
  Olson said after the Dec. 23 hearing that he had hired Dan Brueck of Oak Lawn to promote the bar and attract clientele. Olson took over control of the bar from his father, who owned it for many years. He is working to open another bar on Southwest Highway in Oak Lawn.
  Olson said he has “put together a plan” to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. He said he would share that plan with village officials before the January hearing.
  He said the bar’s alarm system, which includes motion sensors, will notify him and police if it is triggered after 3 a.m., one hour after the tavern closes. Employees should have cleaned up and closed the facility by that time, he said.