Bar Owner Liability: Managing Overserved Patrons

Posted on: August 11, 2017 by RMS Hospitality

Common Bar Lawsuits > Recognizing Overserved Guests

In this final installment of our article series on identifying common bar owner liabilities, we’re going to cover how to identify and manage drunk patrons. As these customers have a tendency to get into accidents and even cause fights, watching for signs of intoxication in your bar can prevent liabilities before they happen. We’ve already covered slips and falls, guest altercations, and even bouncer/patron fights, now it’s time to go over spotting these potentially dangerous scenarios from the start. Before reading on, protect your operation with a customized and comprehensive Sports Bar Insurance Program.

Recognize the signs.

For the most part, intoxicated people are easy to pick out of a crowd. The following behaviors are red flags that the customer has been overserved and should be cut off:

  • Slurring speech
  • Spilling or dropping drinks
  • Loud speech
  • Ordering drinks back to back
  • Instability while standing or sitting

Even if someone isn’t displaying these typical signs of being drunk, that doesn’t mean they are sober. So, what should you do? First, ensure that your bartenders and servers include management when making the decision.. If these patrons get aggressive, management or a bouncer will likely need to intervene to keep the peace.

Remedy the situation.

Before cutting the person off, try the following tactics for slowing down the drinking:

  • Offer food
  • Offer nonalcoholic beverages
  • Require the customer to wait for a bit to get their server’s or bartender’s attention.

If these strategies don’t work, or the customer continues to order drinks and gets rowdy, you’ll need to cut him or her off.

Cutting the patron off.

There is some tact required when cutting off a paying customer from ordering more alcohol. According to Dummies, here are some considerations to take when refusing service to a customer:

  • Don’t cut anyone off in front of others. The manager should invite the person to the office or pull him aside to break the news. Keep it factual, not accusatory: “I think you should call it a night.”
  • Quietly give the person’s friends the same information. Tell whoever the person is with that you’re not serving that customer anymore. Don’t get into any negotiation about it.
  • Get the customer a ride home. If they do not have a designated driver, call them a cab and ensure they get into it before going back inside.

About RMS Hospitality Group

At RMS Hospitality Group, we are dedicated to protecting the operations of bars and their employees. Our comprehensive coverage provides protection against a broad scope of exposures your businesses and employees face to promote their success and longevity. For more information, contact our knowledgeable specialists today at (516) 742-8585.

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