New Jersey authorities raided 29 bars last May in what they called "Operation Swill," following reports that certain establishments were substituting certain liquors with cheap alcohol. On Wednesday, the attorney general announced that Briad, the group that owns TGI Friday's in New Jersey, would pay a $500,000 fine for their deceptive practices.
“This unlawful practice took advantage of consumers who were cheated out of what they thought they were purchasing," Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said in a statement. "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.”
“Drink substitution threatens the integrity of the alcoholic beverage industry, and retailers, wholesalers and customers all lose because of this illegal activity,” said Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Director Michael Halfacre.
Briad said that the company was looking "forward to putting this matter behind us."
About 1,000 bottled of alcohol were seized in the officials' investigation, which was prompted by customer and informant reports. In one instance, rubbing alcohol was mixed with caramel and sold as scotch.
Eight of the 13 TGI Friday's restaurants raided by police were charged with violations.