How to Improve Your Restaurant's Alcohol Policy

Posted on May 3, 2017 by Michelle Locke

We’ve written a lot about alcohol policy the last few months. Here’s why: it’s incredibly important for restaurants, in order for employees and guests to remain safe and to establish your restaurant as a fun, enjoyable place. No restaurant wants to end up with a bad reputation because of a few mistakes. And worse, you don’t want to lose any licenses or permits because of it.

We wanted to share the exact pieces that every alcohol policy needs. When we say “alcohol policy,” we are talking about a specific written document that you have in your restaurant; this can be on paper (if you use traditional paper manuals) or in Waitrainer+. As well, when you have new employees read and review the alcohol policy, they should sign a form saying they have read and understand it. (And, of course, they should take a quiz to review the material as well!) The policy should be reviewed frequently in pre-shift meetings and retrained every single year.

Without further ado, let’s talk about how to improve your alcohol policy.

1. Add Safety Rules.

If your alcohol policy is extremely general, it might have some basics regarding safety. But as we’ve written before, safety when it comes to alcohol needs to be detail-oriented. Here are some parts to make sure you include:

  • Signs of intoxication
  • Taxi procedures to get intoxicated guests home
  • How to not overserve
  • Scripts for explaining why you can no longer serve a guest
  • Procedures for what to do in the case of an intoxicated, aggressive guest

2. Train to Check IDs

To prevent serious slip ups, your employees (all of them, not just bartenders) need to be trained on how to spot fake IDs. This isn’t just safe for your restaurant in terms of guest and employee safety; it helps keep your restaurant compliant as a business. If you need training materials for checking IDs, send us a message and we’ll help you find something perfect.

3. Establish Safety Protocols.

In regards to safety, you need to have parts of your policy include steps to take and who to tell for each step of the process. Here’s an example:

Your bartender comes to you (a manager) and explains that one guest, in a larger party, is extremely intoxicated and getting aggressive: with the bartender, with the other guests in the party, and with other guests not in the party. What steps should you (a manager) take next?

Your policy needs to address situations like this. What should a bartender or server do when a guest is demanding to be served, despite clearly being intoxicated? What should a bartender or server do when a guest who has been drinking wants to leave—and they clearly are not safe to drive? Here are some policies to consider:

  • Taxi-calling procedures
  • Safety protocols for intoxicated guests
  • Scripts to prevent over serving guests
  • Chain of command for intoxicated, aggressive guests

Have more questions? Send us a message here and we can help you get that alcohol policy into tip-top shape.