“If they get me on this one I’m going to have to close down,” Steven Burgelin, general manager of Casanova, told me. It was about 6 p.m. on Feb. 2, and the Maui County Liquor Control Adjudication Board had just gone into deliberation. They’d been dealing with Casanova—up on two separate cases involving alleged over-service—since noon.
Burgelin was just joking, but not by much. That afternoon the board found the popular Makawao restaurant and nightclub (and Maui Time advertiser) guilty of serving alcohol to an intoxicated patron and of failing to exercise “due care” involving that patron. The fines for that conviction totaled $2,500 and constituted the club’s “first strike” for over-service in 16 years of business.
Even deputy prosecuting attorney Andrew Martin admitted to the board that all his evidence in that case was circumstantial—a guy said he went to Casanova one night after drinking “at least” a dozen Heinekens at an Iao Valley barbecue, then attacked a cop outside after he left that night. Even though Martin provided no direct evidence that the guy was drunk at the moment Casanova served him two Long Island Iced Teas, the board handed down two guilty verdicts (though they did throw out a count alleging that Casanova “knowingly permitted” an intoxicated patron to remain in the premises).
The case that concerned Burgelin now was different. On the same night as the first case, a woman had gone to Casanova, drank three glasses of red wine in three hours—got cut off by bar staff when a guy tried to buy her a fourth glass—then hit a building while trying to drive out of the parking lot across the street.
That’s right: three glasses in three hours. No one, including LC investigators and prosecutor Martin, disputed that.
“Nobody gets drunk after three glasses of wine,” Burgelin told the board. “Nobody!… Three glasses of wine in three hours does not make anyone intoxicated. That’s a fact.”
It’s unclear whether the board accepted Burgelin’s assertion. Their decision—the complete opposite of the previous case—found Casanova not guilty of serving an intoxicated patron and of failing to exercise due care, but nailed them on knowingly permitting a drunk customer to remain inside.