The Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission is investigating Casa Blanca Mexican Restaurant in North Andover for failure to follow COVID-19 safety standards and having 24 minors who were found drinking alcohol and/or in possession of fake IDs in the establishment, state officials said.
Ted Mahoney, the chief investigator for the state commission, said two investigators visited the restaurant on Osgood Street as part of routine COVID-19 enforcement when they noticed “several youthful-appearing individuals” who were found to be under 21 years old, according to a statement from the state.
The incident happened Thursday of last week around 9 p.m., state officials said.
The restaurant in owned by a family that runs a restaurant by the same name in downtown Haverhill.
As it turned out, two dozen minors – mostly around the age of 19 – were found drinking and/or with fake IDs in the restaurant, an abnormally high number according to Mahoney.
“It’s not common. Normally investigators might find two, three or five people that would be a norm, but we would not see this number,” Mahoney said.
In addition to serving alcohol to minors, Casa Blanca was found to violate COVID-19 safety protocols, according to the statement. Investigators said tables at the restaurant were not positioned 6 feet apart.
Recent reports show that an increase of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts are related to younger people who are under 30, according to the statement. This raises concerns that asymptomatic young people are helping to spread the virus to more vulnerable individuals.
The ABCC conducts enforcement to ensure that restaurants and other establishments comply with safety guidelines to prevent dangerous behaviors known to increase the spread of the virus
“This health crisis is far from over and taking care of all Massachusetts residents is of the utmost importance,” said State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who oversees the ABCC. “By continuing to educate, monitor, and enforce these safety standards we will help save lives.”
Casa Blanca Mexican Restaurant is going to be summoned for a hearing before the ABCC and if found to be in violation of the law, the restaurant’s liquor license may be suspended, modified or revoked.