NJ: Bars swapped cheap booze for premium liquor

By the Associated Press | May 22, 2013 | 10:35 PM EDT

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey officials have seized inventory and demanded records from 29 bars and restaurants, nearly half of them TGI Fridays, that they say sold low-quality liquor to patrons who thought they were buying premium brands.

Dubbed "Operation Swill," the yearlong investigation discovered that establishments had filled premium brand bottles with cheaper booze in an effort to fool customers and increase profits.

Thirteen of the restaurants cited are TGI Fridays.

The company said in a statement it was working with the franchisee and owner of the TGI Fridays to investigate the allegations, which it called serious.

The TGI Fridays cited are all owned by the Livingston, N.J.-based Briad Group, which says on its website it owns 70 TGI Fridays in seven states.

The investigation was the result of citizen complaints and used confidential informants and covertly obtained test samples.