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T.G.I. Friday’s franchisee agrees to pay $500K fine in alcohol-switching case

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The Livingston-based Briad Restaurant Group has agreed to pay a $500,000 fine and will not contest charges that some of its restaurants substituted off-brands of liquor for customers ordering top-shelf alcohol, the state announced today.

Briad is the franchisee for eight T.G.I. Friday’s locations in New Jersey that were found to be in violation during “Operation Swill” in May.

“Briad’s restaurants were scamming customers by serving them a cheap substitute for what they ordered,” acting Attorney General John Hoffman said. “This fine should send a clear message to every bar and restaurant throughout New Jersey that customers should get what they pay for every time without exception.”

The divisions of Alcoholic Beverage Control and Criminal Justice Investigators raided 29 establishments — including 13 T.G.I. Friday’s locations — and seized approximately 250 bottles of spirits from those locations. It was discovered that some establishments had filled premium liquor bottles with nonpremium substitutes.

Executives from the Briad Group were not made available to comment, but released a statement emphasizing that the company fully cooperated with the state in its investigation.

“In addition to the settlement, we have also made operational adjustments, initiated new training programs and redoubled our efforts to ensure that all of our restaurants adhere to Fridays’ extensive bar and beverage standards,” the statement read. “We are committed to our ongoing mission to ensure that our customers are so pleased with their experience in our restaurants that they will come back again and again.”

The eight T.G.I. Friday’s locations found to be in violation were in West Orange, East Windsor, Old Bridge, Piscataway, Freehold, Marlboro, Hazlet and Linden.

As part of the settlement, Briad will employ an ABC-appointed monitor through June 30. The compliance officer will have the full cooperation of Briad’s restaurants and its employees, as well as access to all books, records, compensation programs and any other information the monitor deems appropriate. The compliance officer will then report the findings to the ABC.

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