(TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - The weekend arrests of two employees of a restaurant chain in Tyler were the result of an undercover operation spurred by numerous complaints from the public concerning liquor law violations authorities said.
Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Sgt. Marcus Stokee said Sunday arrests occurred at Applebees at 5502 S. Broadway Ave. during an undercover investigation.
"We had received several complaints concerning the business and the possible serving of patrons past the point of intoxication," he said.
Stokee said a male employee of Applebees, who was off work, had 15 beers and four or five shots on his tab and was "extremely intoxicated."
"We arrested him on a Class C misdemeanor public intoxication charge and the waitress on a Class A misdemeanor charge of serving an intoxicated person," he said.
Cheryl Green, Apple Texas Restaurants vice president of human resources, said her company takes the matter seriously and will use it for further education on the service of alcohol.
"We are outraged and disappointed at the details of this incident and have terminated both team members that were alleged to have been involved. In addition, we will use this incident as an opportunity to review our expectations for the responsible service of alcohol with all of our restaurant teams so that our expectations are clearly understood by all of our employees," she stated in a written response to questions.
Stokee said Tyler establishments are "pretty good" at cutting off patrons reaching the point of intoxication and added it is somewhat more prevalent in larger cities.
"We investigated five places in Tyler that night, and this was the only place where we saw violations," he said.
Stokee said a new application available on smart phones allows the public to send in complaints, and since launching several months ago the number of complaints has more than doubled.
Stokee said the reason for investigations is to hopefully cut down fatality accidents where a patron has been served too much alcohol and then hits the roadways.
He said he is investigating the deaths of two East Texans killed in separate car accidents where it is believed those killed had been served past the point of intoxication and then got into a car and drove from the business.
Stokee said establishments can be held liable and the person serving could be charged with the death.
"People see us show up and think we are only there to ruin the party, but there is a much larger thing we are doing and that is protecting the public's safety," he said.
28-year-old Meagan Marie Higginbotham was arrested for sale to intoxicated, and 24-year-old Matthew Brimhall was charged with public intoxication.