WILLMAR — The Willmar City Council unanimously decided to uphold the $1,000 penalty against the Willmar American Legion Post 167 after the establishment failed an alcohol compliance check in July.

The Legion had appealed the penalty at Monday's council meeting, when testimony was given by three of the four businesses that had failed compliance checks.

The appeal from the Legion was based on the grounds that the serving staff had corrected the mistake it had made prior to law enforcement arriving at the bar.

According to the testimony at the council meeting, the serving staff had checked the identification of the customer but still took the money and provided the alcoholic beverage. The server in question had not yet taken the Willmar Police Department beverage server training, which is offered monthly.

However, quickly after the transaction was made, the staff checked the identification again, realized the person was underage, and took the drink back and returned the person's money. Because no law enforcement action was taken, the Legion asked the fine and violation be forgiven.

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"We feel the fine is unfair," said Vicki Smith, general manager of the Legion.

The council, however, at the end of lengthy deliberation, felt differently.

"Unfortunately, the server did the transaction," said Councilor Julie Asmus. "That's it, it is black and white."

The Legion was one of four food and beverage businesses that failed the latest round of compliance checks. Both Applebee's Bar and Grill and the Barn Theatre had their first violations and were required to speak in front of the council.

Representatives from Applebee's said the employee who sold the alcohol was immediately fired, as is the restaurant's corporate policy. Applebee's also requires all employees to pass the restaurant's own alcohol serving training before being allowed to serve. Staff must also be recertified every two years.

"In this case, corporate policy has addressed this subject in a serious and sensible way," Councilor Andrew Plowman said.

The Barn Theatre, according to testimony, has an all-volunteer staff serving at events, and does have them all go through the city-provided training. The server who provided the minor with the alcohol had taken the training a few months previous.

Since the incident, the Barn Theatre has put up reminders to staff about checking identification before serving alcohol.

"I am hoping it never happens again," said Brian Stenholm, Barn Theatre board member.

The fourth establishment to fail was the Foxhole Brewhouse. Since it was the second violation in three years or three compliance checks, the brewhouse was fined $1,000. The fine was paid and no one from the business attended the council meeting.