New Jersey liquor regulators said Thursday that they have fined a Seaside Heights cantina $15,000 for serving a "visibly intoxicated" Deena Cortese just before she wandered out into traffic in June.
As a condition of an agreement negotiated with Spicy Cantina & Mexican Grill, Cortese is banned from the premises for two years.
According to New Jersey's Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Cortese and an entourage that included an MTV film crew were at the restaurant for 90 minutes on June 10. During that time, Cortese walked on the bar, fell to the ground, then climbed up and stood on a red bench at a table of restaurant patrons.
Cortese also left the premises with an alcoholic beverage - a big no-no in New Jersey - walked onto the boardwalk and returned to the bar a short time later.
"This settlement is a cautionary tale for licensees who might think ignoring the law for the sake of air time is good for business," said Michael Halfacre, the division's director. "By turning a blind eye to the mayhem that can be associated with reality television, you are risking your livelihood. That is, without a doubt, bad for business."
A woman who answered the telephone at Spicy Cantina on Thursday said no one from the business would comment on the settlement.
MTV recently announced that "Jersey Shore" will conclude after its upcoming sixth season, which begins Oct. 4. The series features a cast of over-tanned, over-loud and always pumped-up characters who tried the patience of local residents with their party-hearty antics. The show strayed from Jersey during its run, taking the cast to Miami Beach and Italy.
Cortese, 25, was arrested by Seaside Heights police for disorderly conduct. According to police reports, Cortese was observed running out of Spicy Cantina and into the street.She began dancing in the intersection and appeared to be intoxicated after losing her balance several times, the alcohol division said. Cortese then walked down a street, grabbed the trunk of a car and continued to dance.
Seaside Heights Police said her behavior was seriously restricting the flow of the traffic and then placed her under arrest. Afterward, state officials said, Cortese told police she had been drinking throughout the day.
At a municipal court appearance a month later, she pleaded guilty to failing to use the sidewalk and paid a $106 fine. (Her plea came in the same courtroom where "Jersey Shore" pal Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi pleaded guilty to disturbing other beachgoers in 2010.)
Cortese apologized to the court, then got a talking-to from her mother.
She also had to pay $33 in court costs but avoided a criminal conviction by pleading guilty to a violation of the motor vehicle code.
In the settlement with the state, Spicy Cantina also admitted serving Cortese drinks she did not order, which is illegal in New Jersey. Four employees from the restaurant submitted a letter to the alcohol division explaining that Cortese was served one alcoholic drink - a vodka and club soda - then was deemed to be intoxicated by the bar management.
According to the letter, after cutting Cortese off, "she was served several shots of water, which she thought contained alcohol. She was also served non-alcoholic drink mix with fruit garnish. She drank multiple glasses without realizing that she was not drinking alcohol."
The business faces a 10-day suspension of its liquor license if it violates state alcohol laws over the next two years.