Originally published June 1 2013
Busted: TGI Fridays sold rubbing alcohol as high-end scotch
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Superstorm Sandy took a huge toll in New Jersey last October when she blew through the state's eastern shores, wiping out scores of houses and businesses. Restaurant chain TGI Fridays continued to exact a toll on New Jersey customers by shortchanging them at the bar.
A statewide investigation has found that the restaurant chain, along with other bars, has been cheating customers by substituting premium brands of alcohol with cheap replacements.
According to Britain's Daily Mail:
At one bar, a mixture that included rubbing alcohol and caramel coloring was sold as scotch. In another, premium liquor bottles were refilled with water - and apparently not even clean water at that.
The mark-up for booze just got higherRecently, state investigators provided those and other details that emerged from a series of raids conducted in the days prior, as part of a year-long investigation dubbed Operation Swill. In all, 29 Jersey bars and restaurants - among them 13 TGI Fridays - were allegedly found to have been substituting the cheap alcohol for premium brands - while charging for the higher-end liquor.
More from the Mail:
As part of Operation Swill, investigators collected 1,000 open bottles of vodka, gin, rum, scotch, whiskey and tequila from the wells of the bars, state Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said. "This alleged scheme is a dishonest ruse to increase profits and is a slap in the face of the consumer," Chiesa said.
And how - considering that rubbing alcohol should not be consumed at all, and the mark-up on liquor at most establishments is already high.
State officials have given the offending restaurants and bars a week to turn over records to help investigators determine how many customers were overcharged, and by how much. In addition, these establishments must provide investigators with the names of employees who worked during the offending periods when samples were taken covertly earlier this year as part of the investigation.
According to the Mail, TGI Fridays in the following cities were busted: East Hanover; Clifton; West Orange; Springfield; Linden; Piscataway; North Brunswick; Old Bridge; Hazlet; Marlboro; Freehold; East Windsor; and Hamilton.
Officials from the state's Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control would not say which bar used the rubbing alcohol or the dirty water or water not from the tap. But they did say no health issues have been reported thus far.
The TGI Fridays chain said it was also conducting its own investigation and is working with the franchisee who owns all 13 restaurants cited, The Briad Group.
'We're shocked!'"We consider the alleged actions detailed by the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control to be very disturbing," said Ricky Richardson, president of Fridays USA. "If accurate, they would represent a violation of our company's values and our extensive bar and beverage standards which are designed to deliver the highest guest experience in our restaurants. We have zero tolerance for actions that undermine the trust of our guests and call into question the reputation we have built up over the past 48 years."
Continuing, he said, "Although this is isolated to one group of franchised restaurants, I want to reiterate to all of our guests that we remain committed to delivering the 'In Here, It's Always Friday' experience to every guest in every restaurant. That's always been and will continue to be our focus and promise to our guests."
The Briad Group also issued its own statement, saying it "takes great pride in the quality of food and drink" served at its franchises and was therefore surprised by the state's findings.
"We want every assurance possible that our guests can continue to feel confident in the great food and drink they order at our T.G.I. Friday's restaurants," said company president Rick Barbrick, in an emailed statement to the Mail.
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