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Is A Customer Drinking Too Much? 3 Tips To Keep You From Losing Your Liquor License

Is A Customer Drinking Too Much? 3 Tips To Keep You From Losing Your Liquor License



By Geoff Williams, Contributor

July 30, 2016

On TV, especially on the older shows, you see it all the time: the drunk at the bar, drowning his sorrows, one drink after another. The bartender may say something like, “Maybe you’ve had enough,” but, of course, the scene usually shows the customer ordering another while the bartender shakes his head regretfully and pours another round.


But in real life, it’s a different story, or at least, it better be. In 43 states and the District of Columbia, there are laws on the books declaring that if an establishment may be liable for a drinker’s behavior, after they leave the premises, if the restaurant or bar didn’t take steps to curb the drinking.


Even if there isn’t a law on the books, it may end up closing, which recently happened with a Hooters restaurant in Rockville, Maryland.


On December 3, 2015, according to The Washington Post and various media outlets, a customer, Luis Reluzco, 47, stayed at a Hooters for more than four hours, drinking beer and whiskey. He drove away at 9:40 p.m., and shortly afterward, hit and killed a police officer on the side of the highway. The officer, Noah Leotta, had been working on a holiday drunken-driving enforcement task force.


Maryland is still one of a handful of states that don’t have what are called dram shop laws, an 18th century England reference to establishments that sold gin. Despite that, the restaurant was facing a hearing before a licensing commission board before the corporate company of Hooters decided to close the location. The company issued a statement saying, in part, “In light of the tragic circumstances… surrendering the license was the right thing to do.”


The Rockville Hooters will close November 1. In any case, for all restaurant and bar owners, it’s a reminder that, laws or no laws, when it comes to drinking, the customer is not always right. In fact, sometimes, the customer is loaded. Here are three tips to help you diffuse a potential problem.


Consider training your bartenders and staff. There are training courses you could have your staff enroll in, like TIPS (Training for Intervention ProcedureS), to help severs know when to stop pouring and how to do it in a way that doesn’t end up in a drunken fist fight.


Sean Woods is a co-owner of Deadhorse Hill, a restaurant and cafe in Worcester, Massachusetts. Woods says that he took several TIPS classes, and that they ultimately helped.