After 7 Months Without a Liquor License, Sandrina's Seeks to Serve Alcohol Again


Sandrina's is located on Arsenal. - RFT FILE PHOTO
  • Sandrina's is located on Arsenal.
Sandrina's (5098 Arsenal Street, 314-601-3456) has long been a late-night favorite for south city boozehounds — combining a kitchen that kept cooking after midnight with a 3 a.m. liquor license.

But since June 30, Sandrina's has been quietly dealing with a huge problem: It no longer has the legal right to serve alcohol.

Trish Erwin, the bar's co-owner, declined comment on the situation. But records from the state's Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control detail a saga that began with a missed deadline and led to a failed background check. Even worse: a careless typo may have cost the bar a chance at speedy resolution.

According to those records, Sandrina's hasn't had a liquor license since June 30. The state is now opposing its attempt at reinstatement not just because of the original paperwork problems, but for selling alcohol after its license was yanked.

The restaurant/bar is appealing the state's decision. It will make its case to Missouri's Administrative Hearing Commission on April 12.

Sandrina's has been open in the Southwest Garden neighborhood since 2007, but its problems began much more recently, with what should have been a routine liquor license renewal. This summer, its owners (Erwin along with Larry and Sandra Erwin, with Horace Trice Jr. as a minority partner) failed to file the necessary paperwork to renew their license by the June 30 deadline, state records show.

In a letter to state officials, the Erwins explained that one of the partners had suffered a serious medical problem. "Miscommunication" between the other two partners then led to missing the deadline, they wrote.

According to the Erwins' letter, they were given a month's extension. But they apparently missed the new deadline. (In their letter, Trish and Sandra Erwin wrote that they didn't realize the state office they needed paperwork from closes early on the last day of the month.)

They still stayed open. And on September 20, a state agent caught Sandrina's selling alcohol. The state told them to reapply for a license. But that meant a background check — and the check came back with two red flags.

The first, a few debts incurred by Sandrina's, were easily resolved. But the other was more problematic: Trish Erwin had been part-owner of the Delmar Lounge, and that bar had closed without making good on more than $12,000 in various debts, according to state records. As a co-owner, Erwin was on the hook.

In a letter to the state officials, Erwin claimed she'd sold her shares in the Delmar Lounge in 2006. As proof, she attached an affidavit from her former partner. There was just one problem: The affidavit actually stated that Erwin had sold her shares in 2018. And since the debts had been accumulated in 2012, the state concluded she was still responsible.

Erwin later forwarded another affidavit from her former partner, this one saying the 2018 reference had been a typo.

It was apparently too late. In its brief to the hearing commission opposing Sandrina's reinstatement, the assistant attorney general representing Alcohol and Tobacco Control notes the debts from Delmar Lounge. He also notes that Sandrina's was caught serving booze in September, despite losing its license on June 30. "By serving alcohol without a license," he wrote, "Petitioner violated [Missouri law]."

In her email, Erwin said Sandrina's would have no comment until after the appeals hearing is over. She did note, however, that the place is open and hopes to begin lunch and brunch service this month.

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