SAN FRANCISCO – Agents of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) posted a notice of suspension on April 10 at Dimples Cocktail Lounge, located at 1700 Post St. in San Francisco Japantown.

Dimples is located on Post Street near Buchanan in Japantown. (Google Maps)
Dimples is located on Post Street near Buchanan in Japantown. (Google Maps)

The 45-day suspension is the result of a three-month investigation by department undercover agents. ABC filed an accusation alleging Dimples allowed an illegal drink solicitation scheme.

During the investigation, agents discovered violations involving female bar servers who placed a surcharge on alcoholic beverages in exchange for keeping male patrons company. The bar would receive the cash for the alcohol and pay out a commission to the female employee.

This type of commission scheme is a violation of Business and Professions Code Section 24200.5(b). Such practices can contribute to the over-service of alcohol and possibly other violations of law.

Under the terms of the stipulated decision set forth by the department, the license has been suspended for 45 days and placed on probation for three years. If any similar violations occur in the next three years, ABC has the authority to revoke the license.

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, the owner of the license at Dimples, Sonyong Crouere, also owns the license at Pagoda, a bar down the street, which received a 60-day suspension in February because an investigation uncovered a similar drink solicitation scheme. In the Pagoda case, one employee was arrested on suspicion of soliciting prostitution and another was investigated over allegations of pimping.

The owner could not be reached for comment, but John Hinman, a San Francisco attorney who has defended bars in liquor litigation, told The Chronicle there is nothing inherently illegal about hostess bars. Clubs where women solicit drinks, hang out and even drink with patrons are a major part of nightlife in Asian metropolises such as Tokyo, Hong Kong and Macau, and similar clubs have existed in San Francisco in some form or another for decades, Hinman said.

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