LOGAN The White Owl, a popular tavern in this college town with a reputation for cracking down on people under 21, will be closed for five days after flunking an undercover sting.
The owner is steaming over the punishment, which starts on New Year's Eve and will cost the bar $10,000 in lost revenue.
John Calderwood said the bar has no tolerance for underage drinking. He recently hung a banner in the window to announce that The White Owl had caught a young woman trying to get inside. The sign included her name and the amount of her fine.
In the case cited by state regulators, Calderwood said a bouncer "misread the ID and made a math error."
The Utah Department of Public Safety sent two people under 21 into the bar on Oct. 19. One was stopped and not allowed to enter. The other got in and purchased a large mug of draft beer, said Earl Dorius, regulatory director at the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
"They do a very good job of screening out minors, but this one didn't work that way," Dorius said Thursday.
"We try to keep our licensees in business but also in compliance. That's a balancing act of sorts," he said.
Dorius said the five-day closure, including the dates, was part of a settlement between the agency and The White Owl.
"If he's upset, he's entitled to take it to a hearing," Dorius said of the owner.
Calderwood said the punishment was unfair, but he settled the case because the penalty "could have been worse."
"We're getting closed for errant addition," he said. "If a kid makes a mistake in math class, do you kick him out of school and close down the school for a week?"
More than two dozen employees will lose pay at The White Owl, one of the few bars near Utah State University.
"Several of the girls are single mothers," Calderwood said.
The doorman who made the mistake was fired. Two doormen are now checking IDs at an extra cost of $15,000 a year, Calderwood said.
He also purchased a $1,400 scanner that reads driver's license bar codes and displays the license owner's age. The scanner can detect fake IDs.
"We're covering ourselves," Calderwood said.