License Board Cracks Down on Drinking

The Cambridge License Commission is showing signs that it is cracking down on underage drinking in the city.

Last night, the board gave a mild slap on the wrist to 15 local business owners--among them the owners of The Hasty Pudding Club and Christy's in Harvard Square--who failed to attend a summer training session on underage alcohol consumption.

The training, part of the citywide "Cops and Shops" program to combat underage drinking in local restaurants and liquor stores, was held over two days in August, and each business was notified twice of the meetings.

"Some of the people were sick, others had family members to attend to," Abebe Woldu, owner of Asmara Restaurant in Central Square, said last night.

"I think we were adequately notified--we just didn't take it seriously," Frank Mastromauro Jr., owner of the Main Street Italian restaurant, LaGroceria, said after the meeting.

Both restaurateurs attributed the lack of attention on the part of area businesses more to other commitments than a sense of apathy towards the issue.

"People don't show up at work, people come late, you never know," said Woldu.

"The day-to-day running of our businesses is distracting," Mastromauro said. "There was no intent on any of our parts to disobey the board."

All those that did not attend the first meeting are required to attend meetings on Feb. 4-5, which will be held in one of the places of business brought before the board last night.

Mastromauro--who has run LaGroceria for the past 25 years--said that all of the businesses called before the commission are enthusiastic supporters of the "Cops and Shops" initiative.

He said that the program, which places undercover police officers in area stores and restaurants, has further developed willing cooperation between businesses and the commission.

"It's definitely good for our own safety," added Woldu.

"Central Square has changed a lot in the 25 years I've been here," Mastromauro added. "Things have really cleaned up, but we still need to work together and that's what I think we're addressing."