Sunday, July 7, 2013

Fork in the City caught up in ABC bouncing check rule

Fork-In-Market_web-300x225Virginia has the toughest laws in the country when it comes to alcohol beverage consumption and distribution to restaurants explained Trish Ashley accounting manager at Blue Ridge Beverage Company. When checks are returned for insufficient funds “there are ABC policies and guidelines we have to go by,” she said.

The first insufficient fund check if made good within seven days slides by but Fork in the City, Fork in the Alley and Fork in the Market operated by councilman Dave Trinkle had two insufficient funds checks within 180 days. That required Blue Ridge Beverage Company to report the incident dates to the Alcohol Beverage Control Agency.

The first bad check was on September 28, 2012. It was made good within seven days and was the first occurrence in a 180-day period. “A written warning was not issued,” said Carol Mawyer, a public relations specialist at the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control in Richmond.

However the “Fork” restaurants issued a second bad check on October 2, 2012.  “Since this check was less than 180 days from the first incident, a written warning was issued,” said Mawyer in an email. A written warning is issued regardless of whether the second check is made good she explained.  If a third check had been issued within the 180-day period a violation would have occurred.  At this point the licensee and the wholesaler would have been required to come before the ABC board for a hearing she said.

To avoid a violation and keep the wholesaler from having to “visit” the ABC board at that point cash is required upon delivery of the alcoholic beverages. Ms Ashley said this was the case for the three “Fork” restaurants. As a general rule “after the second check within 180 days I put them on cash only for 90 days and if I get more than one they typically stay on [cash only] for six months – or longer.”

The “Forks” are still paying cash, she said and “sometimes [restaurants] request to stay on cash only so they don’t have an issue again” even though after 90 or 180 days checks could be accepted again depending on their determination of risk.

The “Forks” aren’t the only restaurant/bars that have financial woes at certain times of the year. “It’s seasonal,” said Ashley. In the summertime things pick up and “every thing’s good,” she said. It is the months of November, December, January and February “it gets bad.”

An employee of the Fork restaurant who spoke on the condition of anonymity said their paychecks bounced during the winter and that it left a trickledown effect on their bill payments.

Dr. Trinkle said earlier this month when discussing his “warrant in debt” with the Market Foundation for bounced rent payments that the 2012-2013 winter was tough on the restaurant business.

Roger Elkin with Hall and Associates, the Market Building Foundation’s agent said that particularly this winter had been tough for downtown restaurants and retail outlets. Things are picking up in the good weather he said.

As long as Trinkle continues payments on the $12,379 debt the General Court Civil Suit will be continued each month. This has been the case since January and the next court date is July 12.

ABC Documents: Fork in the CityFork in the AlleyFork in the Market.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Business

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