FI making a cocktail

In the United States, drunk driving accidents kill 1 person every 30 minutes, and if that driver became intoxicated at your restaurant, you could be held liable.

Alcohol service is a huge booster for your bottom line, and you want to sell a lot of it, but serving alcohol comes with a lot of responsibility and needs to be taken seriously by every employee. Your restaurant and its employees can face criminal charges for serving a minor, someone intoxicated or if the actions of an intoxicated customer lead to a death, injury or property damage.

Before the busy holiday season approaches, take a minute to review your state’s laws on alcohol service and the alcohol service training at your restaurant. Be sure it’s compliant and also at the same standard you expect for any service in your establishment.

Here are some issues to consider.

Train staff

Whether or not your state requires special training in alcohol service, your restaurant should. Check out programs such as the National Restaurant Associations ServSafe Alcohol and require its completion for all front-of-house employees. Track employees completion and be sure their training doesn’t expire. Remember, this training is not just for bartenders or servers. Greeters are often the first line of defense in noticing if a customer comes into your restaurant already intoxicated.

woman pouring drink at bar

Check IDs rigorously

Establish a system within your organization that assures IDs are checked closely. Train employees to feel empowered to do this, especially young servers who may feel uncomfortable. Consider using a POS system that prompts employees with a reminder to check an ID or even requires them to input a birthdate for a new order.

Close up of waiter hand noting down menu on tablet. Young woman

Establish a protocol

As an organization, have a system set up to deal with intoxicated customers and be sure all employees are trained well on this protocol. For example, servers can be trained to alert a manager any time someone has ordered a third drink. Those managers should be specially trained in how to communicate with intoxicated customers and in what to do in situations where a customer needs to be cut off or offered a taxi home instead of driving. That person should also be trained on calling the police if a situation escalates, such as that person becomes angry or insists on driving.

Responsible selling

Having a strict alcohol service policy goes a long way in establishing a good reputation with your community and your guests, and it doesn’t have to have a negative impact on your bottom line. Serving alcohol responsibly doesn’t necessarily mean you’re making less money. Rather than your staff loosening its standards and serving too much to the wrong people, train them on better alcohol selling to the right people. Train them on your wine list, beer options and cocktail menu and you can boost sales while keeping your guests and employees safe.

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Kristin lives on the West Side of Providence with her wine blogger husband. When she's not co-hosting their monthly wine tastings, she's planning her next travel adventure and daydreaming about Spanish jamón. She can often be found pouring over travel guides at her favorite neighborhood spot, Nick's on Broadway.