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TGI Fridays Raided for Alleged Liquor Scam

State authorities seized various alcoholic beverage inventory and records on Wednesday morning from 29 bars and restaurants across New Jersey.

State authorities raided 29 bars and restaurants Wednesday morning, including Springfield's TGI Fridays, on claims they have been ripping off customers by serving cheaper alcohol as top-shelf.

The year-long investigation, named 'Operation Swill,' revealed the 29 establishments allegedly filled premium brand bottles with non-premium alcohol to increase their profits, according to a release from Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

The ABC launched its investigation after receiving citizen complaints, confidential informants and new technology used to test samples taken covertly from the licensed establishments by state detectives.

Various alcoholic beverage inventory and records were seized on Wednesday from bars and restaurants. 

The establishments target in the investigation were:

  • Railroad Café, East Rutherford
  • The Brick House, Wycoff
  • Sunset Tavern, Burlington
  • Graziano’s Ristorante, Chesilhurst
  • Villari’s Lakeside, Gloucester Township
  • Yesterdays, Marmora
  • TGI Fridays, West Orange
  • Italian Affair, Glassboro
  • Bells Tavern Lambertville
  • TGI Fridays, East Windsor
  • Brunswick Grove, East Brunswick
  • TGI Fridays, Old Bridge
  • TGI Fridays, North Brunswick
  • TGI Fridays, Piscataway
  • TGI Fridays, Freehold
  • TGI Fridays, Marlboro
  • TGI Fridays, Hazlet
  • Murray’s, Dover
  • TGI Fridays, East Hanover
  • Sona Thirteen, Morristown
  • Blackthorn Restaurant, Parsippany
  • Ruby Tuesday, Bridgewater
  • TGI Fridays, Linden
  • Café 34, Matawan
  • Applebee’s, Kearny
  • Cucina Calandara, Fairfield
  • TGI Fridays, Woodridge
  • TGI Fridays, Springfield
  • TGI Fridays, Clifton

More information will be released Thursday by state authorities at a press conference in at 11 a.m. in Trenton.

ng271 May 22, 2013 at 08:38 PM
That is a shame that ripping people off when they come in to spend time with their families and friends and you are getting water down drinks...i knew my margarita tasted like an italian ice.
Kathy May 22, 2013 at 09:39 PM
I can't believe this is happening in my own neighborhood. I don't think I'll go to TGIF's ever again. That's fraud and robbery.
Bob Groder May 22, 2013 at 09:49 PM
The TGIF had gone downhill in springfield NJ for the past 5 years so this doesn't surprise me. I stopped going there for horrible service and the food went downhill. I don't drink so id not know about this but it wouldn't surprise me if they skimped on food too to make more money. It didn't taste as good as it used to and their attitude was not good with poor service for years. Ironically I go to the TGIF at blue star shopping center in watching instead and the food and service was better. I hope the whole story comes out as the public should know.
Bob Groder May 22, 2013 at 09:56 PM
Kathy: I had stopped going to the springfield location due to the food and service going downhill. springfield is part of a 75 franchise ownership location but the blue star shopping center is corporate owned and has higher standards. they aren't named and the food is much better there. I live close to the springfield location and if the allegations are true its appauling that this allegedly took place in my neighborhood too.
Allen S Yanow May 23, 2013 at 11:48 AM
I bar tended at the TGIF in springfield from 2007 to 2010. That never happened when I was there. But from when I started to when I left the standards dropped greatly. I was asked to work at the Blue Star location and turned it down because I was leaving the company all together but Blue Star is an amazing location. And yeah thats a corporate location owned by CARLSON Restaurants. The Springfield one is owned by BRIAD. They also own a chain of Wendys. This is unsat and I hope they lose their liquor liscence!
Bob Groder May 23, 2013 at 12:19 PM
I actually knew which company owned the Springfield location Officer Rod but I didn't see the need to mention their name. They are innocent until proven guilty in this country as everyone knows. I would hope this was an isolated incident but since so many TGIF's are named this appears to be a large alleged scale problem. I only stopped going there as quality of the food and service went downhill in the past few years. I agree with officer Farva in his statement.
Allen S Yanow May 23, 2013 at 12:37 PM
Well it is public information to know the company's name and I dont think Springfield Patch is viewed by the masses. But I have been a springfield resident my whole life and It was actually upsetting to work there because not only did the food quality go down, but the clientele on friday and saturday nights was a very dangerous crowd to say the least. I remember it came to a point where they hired security and the police would stop by regularly. So trying to invite friends and family to visit was very difficult.
Devin May 23, 2013 at 12:42 PM
Not surprised one bit. I went there once and will never be back as I witnessed their manager encouraging the team to watch the basketball game and then pulled away our waitress as she was taking our order causing her to make mistakes. Not her fault. If the basics in customer service are being ignored I can only imagine what is going on behind the scenes. It's a shame that so many of the Fridays are named since I fear some people don't realize that some are franchise and others are corporate. The location in blue star is great. I hope they lose their liquor license and the GM gets what he deserves.
Peter May 23, 2013 at 01:13 PM
Well, my loyalty remains strong to Charlie Brown's in Millburn. One of the surviving CB restaurants,supported by and large by the Playhouse patrons. Good food, great service and when you ask for a Beefeaters' Martini,you get Beefeaters'!
Allen S Yanow May 23, 2013 at 01:33 PM
Haha Peter! I actually live out of state now, but I used to eat at CB's on RT 22. Springfield and the one in milburn for wed night wing night. Great Food!
Bob Groder May 23, 2013 at 01:40 PM
I saw some of the problems there on Friday & Saturday nights. I would drive by there and often see police cars with lights flashing. I went in once and I felt very cramped at the bar no place to move and the crowd was kind of rude & crude. I also am a life long Springfield resident Office Farva. In fact my late dad was on the planning board and I am on a volunteer committee called the revenue sharing for union county which helps secure grant money for springfield and other towns in the county. I love my town.
Bob Groder May 23, 2013 at 01:42 PM
It would be the 2nd gm to be fired. a former manager there his name was rory and he was a pompass ass who played games with our checks all because we used a coupon. then he refused to take off things that were legit on the check and I could see him laughing from across the room. I turned him in and he got fired eventually im sure because many customers complained. I don't know who is the GM now but I honestly hope the place goes out of business. that type of alleged crooked behavior has no place in springfield which is a nice quiet town.
Nina May 24, 2013 at 03:07 AM
I knew it! We went to the Applebee's in Kearny, and our drinks were so watered down that we asked for more liquor to be added to it, they gladly did it while charging twice per drink, shame on them!
Richard Nibbler May 24, 2013 at 01:39 PM
Cafe 34 charges $5, $6 & $7 for a drink & gives you $2 worth of booze. The owner FAT TONY is a fake, phony , fraud. I`ll never go in there again.

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