Wakatipu bars pinged in under-age sting

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Two Wakatipu publicans and their bar bosses are rueing the night a pair of 16-year-old temptresses darkened their doorsteps.

Pog Mahones Irish Bar in Queenstown’s Rees Street and the New Orleans Hotel in Arrowtown’s Buckingham St both fell foul of a police sting operation on a Saturday night last November.

After illegally serving the under-age female duo, Pog Mahones has been ordered by the Alcohol Regulatory & Licensing Authority to forfeit one day’s trading on Saturday, May 25.

The New Orleans penalty hasn’t been formally announced but publican Peter Whittaker expects he’ll be pinged three days’ trading later this month – his lost turnover could be $12,000.

The duty managers at each establishment have also suffered for their lack of vigilance.

Pog Mahones’ Diane McQuade has had her general manager’s certificate suspended for four weeks and the New Orleans bar boss – whose name is unknown – expects six weeks’ suspension.

Whittaker – who wasn’t on duty at the time – says he’s a veteran publican and being caught in the New Orleans sting is a first for him.

“It’s never happened to me before and it won’t happen again.”

Whittaker says the two young girls first visited his upstairs bar – “They were promptly asked for ID [by the duty manager] and evicted and told not to come back.”

An hour or so later, the two 16-year-olds went into the New Orleans downstairs bar.

“Unfortunately, the bar­­­­­maid there was a bit inexperienced and served them – she slipped up. They certainly were under-age and our barmaid downstairs didn’t check their ID.”|

Despite the young duo being served only one drink, Whittaker isn’t crying into his beer about the bust.

“We’ve stuffed up and we’ve gotta take it on the chin,” he says philosophically.

Whittaker stresses that while he’ll lose three days of alcohol takings, the New Orleans will still be serving food and coffee and providing accommodation.

The barmaid who served the two temptresses has “moved on”, he says.

Pog Mahones bar boss McQuade wouldn’t comment.