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TGI Friday's Busted for Selling Cheap Booze as Top Shelf

Photo: soeperbaby / Flickr

Thirteen New Jersey TGI Friday's restaurants were among a total of 29 establishments across the state that were raided yesterday morning by officials on suspicion of refilling bottles of premium liquor with cheaper alcohol. During the bust, investigators confiscated various bottles of liquor along with inventory records. The sting was part of what the state's Division of Alcoholic Beverage control has dubbed "Operation Swill." According to a statement from the department published by the New Jersey Star-Ledger, the restaurants involved apparently "fool[ed] the customer and increase[d] their profits," and that "the customer paid for the premium brand but was instead ... poured the non-premium brand." In other words, these restaurants were charging customers top dollar for cheapo booze. Diners aren't too thrilled.

The Star-Ledger reports that the investigation began as a result of complaints, some confidential, and new technology that allowed detectives to test liquor they purchased at the bars.

All of the accused TGI Friday's locations are run by the Briad Group, a Livingston-based hospitality company that is also the restaurant chain's largest franchise operator in the U.S.

TGI Friday's parent company, Carlson Restaurants, which is headquartered in Texas, is of course taking this matter very seriously. In a statement to the Star-Ledger, the company said it was "just made aware of this issue and is working closely with the franchisee and owner of the cited locations to review and investigate these serious allegations." In any case, here's the full list of all the targeted restaurants, including a Ruby Tuesday and an Applebee's:

· Applebee's, Kearny
· Bell's Tavern, Lambertville
· Blackthorn Restaurant, Parsippany
· The Brick House, Wyckoff
· Brunswick Grove, East Brunswick
· Café 34, Matawan
· Cucina Calandara, Fairfield
· Graziano's Ristorante, Chesilhurst
· Italian Affair, Glassboro
· Murray's, Dover
· Railroad Café, East Rutherford
· Ruby Tuesday, Bridgewater
· Sona Thirteen, Morristown
· Sunset Tavern, Burlington
· TGI Fridays, Clifton
· TGI Fridays, East Hanover
· TGI Fridays, East Windsor
· TGI Fridays, Freehold
· TGI Fridays, Hamilton
· TGI Fridays, Hazlet
· TGI Fridays, Linden
· TGI Fridays, Marlboro
· TGI Fridays, North Brunswick
· TGI Fridays, Old Bridge
· TGI Fridays, Piscataway
· TGI Fridays, Springfield
· TGI Fridays, West Orange
· Villari's Lakeside, Gloucester Township
· Yesterday's Marmora

· Operation Swill: N.J. officials charge 29 bars [New Jersey Star-Ledger]
· All TGI Friday's Coverage on Eater [-E-]