Preparing for Heavy-Drinking Holidays at Your Establishment

Holidays tend to mean heavy drinking, and as a restaurant or bar owner, it’s inevitable that you’ll encounter a patron or two who has had one too many drinks. Those who have over-indulged in alcohol can often bring along unwanted trouble, such as fights, property damage, and legal liabilities for over-serving. To protect yourself and your restaurant from any of these issues arising inside of your establishment, here are a few tips to prepare for holiday celebrations.

Re-Train Front of House Staff

Preparing for Heavy-Drinking Holidays at Your Establishment

Via Wikimedia

Even if your staff undergoes regular training on responsible service standard, it’s a good idea to have a refresher course for the team before any holiday that involves heavy drinking. There are many training and certification programs that will equip you and your managers with the proper information and training material to have your staff ready for anything. Make sure that all staff knows they must check ID before serving, and are also aware of signs of intoxication.

Signs of Intoxication

The items on this list could go on for days, but some of the main behaviors and actions to look for to identify an intoxicated patron include:

  • Loud/slurred speech
  • Ordering drinks in a rapid succession
  • Staggering and stumbling
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Spilling drinks
  • Missing mouth while drinking

If your staff is able to spot these types of behaviors early on, make sure they spread the word around to other staff members to not serve the patron displaying these indications of being intoxicated. Many times, a patron who has overindulged and is turned away from the bar will attempt to get drinks from other serves or bartenders after being rejected the first time.

Cutting them Off, Respectfully

As previously mentioned, the identification of an intoxicated patron should immediately be shared with a manager, who should then inform all other staff to keep an eye on the patron. The bartender plays a vital role in helping patrons sober up, by doing some of the following:

  • Placing a glass of water in front of the patron
  • Suggesting they order food
  • Taking away an empty glass or bottle before returning with a new one
  • Saying something along the lines of “Why don’t you slow it down a bit”
  • Alert them that the drink they are being served will be their last

When cutting off an intoxicated patron, it’s best to do it in a private setting instead of calling them out at the crowded bar. If possible, recruit a member of their group who is sober, or much less intoxicated, and have them nearby to break the news that their last call has come early.

Make Sure they Exit Safely

An intoxicated patron who gets behind the wheel of a car and causes an accident can become a direct liability of the establishment in which they most recently left. If the patron does not have a ride home, call a ride service such as Uber, Lyft, or a local cab company, and make sure a staff member watches them enter the vehicle. If the patron becomes argumentative and pushy, offer to pay for their drinks as long as they accept the ride home. In instances where the patron will not leave, call the police and escort the patron outside, as to not disturb the rest of the guests.