As bar and restaurant owners you understand the importance of your liquor license. Let’s face the facts; your food is great, your atmosphere is wonderful, and your staff is second to none, but your restaurant would be empty if you lost your ability to serve alcohol. Intoxicated patrons are not going away. Sure, most are harmless and respectful, but even then you’re bartenders and managers know when they have had enough.
Understanding when to “say when” to your patrons is important, but unfortunately it is not enough. Most insurance carriers want more precautions and safeguards in place. As a business owner with your livelihood & reputation on the line, as well as the safety of others, shutting them off really is NOT enough. Just having them leave your restaurant without an incident doesn’t get you off the hook. What happens after they leave could put you out business if you do not take the appropriate next steps. Training your bartenders and managers to use the proper protocol in the event of an intoxicated patron can keep you from a possible civil action suit brought against you.
Implementing a drive home program that includes the use of Uber, Lift or a local taxi company is a must for your business. The proper training can teach employees how it is more beneficial to pay for an intoxicated patron’s ride home and complete a simple incident form as opposed to taking the risk of letting them drive which could severely impact your business. Intoxicated drivers do not always result in disaster, but risk mitigation means anticipating the possibility and taking the proper precautions! We don’t take chances nor should you. Below are some other tips for avoiding and managing patrons who have had too much:
Some common signs of intoxication are:
- Loud or slurred speech
- Crude, obnoxious, or belligerent behavior
- Stumbling, staggering, or spilling drinks
- Drinking too fast
- Glassy or bloodshot eyes
- Lack of coordination or concentration
- Annoying other customers
- Unable to light a cigarette or lighting two cigarettes
- Complaining about slow service or the strength of drinks
- Drowsy looking, head bobbing, or falling asleep
If a customer shows these signs, alcohol service must be stopped immediately.
Stopping service to a customer:
- If serving alcohol to a customer must be stopped due to intoxication, do so courteously while showing sincere concern for his or her well-being.
- Once the decision to stop has been made, stick to it.
- Inform your supervisor prior to informing the customer.
- Ensure that you or your supervisor informs all other servers tactfully prior to informing the customer. Servers in any other serving areas on the property must also be informed.
- Offer to call a taxi or request the patron take advantage of a ride-sharing service.
- Ask if you may have the customer’s car keys, but do not take them without permission. (There may be state guidelines on this – consult legal counsel before establishing the House Policy.)
- Should they become loud or argumentative, ask them to a private area for discussion. In an attempt to “buy time” offer them free food or nonalcoholic drinks.
- If a situation begins escalating or if the customer becomes uncontrollable or insists on driving, call 911. NOTE: This is why your “Team” is notified in advance; to assist you if necessary.
- Suggested statements for stopping alcohol service are:
- “The Liquor Control Board (or local police) is cracking down on bars in this area, so I cannot serve you another drink.”
- “You are welcome to stay to have some soda, coffee, or food.”
- “I cannot serve you another drink as I am concerned about your safety.”
- “I have to follow company policy and I can’t serve you another drink.”
- “Why not make this one a coffee?”