Many restaurants are drawn to serving alcohol because it requires low overhead, allowing for large profit margins. While most patrons are likely to enjoy their drinks responsibly, you must always be prepared to deal with a customer who has had one too many. 

Intoxicated patrons pose a risk to both patrons and restaurants, as their behavior can result in damage to property or injury to themselves or others. Liquor laws vary from state to state, but often times restaurants are held liable for these actions. In order to protect staff, patrons, and yourself, implementing risk mitigation techniques as part of your everyday procedures is a must.

When dealing with intoxicated patrons, it is essential that staff remain non-confrontational, demonstrating professionalism and sound judgement at all times. One easy way to ensure staff members are aware of this is to provide professional training on the subject. Documentation of such training may also be used to protect a restaurant from fault should a conflict between a staff member and patron unexpectedly arise.

However, the most effective mitigation technique for managing intoxicated customers is ensuring that individuals do not become intoxicated in the first place. Your employees need to be able to spot the signs of intoxication and politely, yet sternly deal with it. 

Should an intoxicated person pose a threat to the safety of others, it is important that staff properly remove them from the premises. As long as they are not behaving dangerously, staff should politely request (with explanation) that they leave the restaurant, allowing enough time for them to gather their things. If an intoxicated customer refuses to leave after being asked, local authorities should be contacted and the patron may be charged with trespassing. 

No physical force should be used by staff on an intoxicated patron unless it is necessary to protect themselves or others from said person. If any altercation between a staff member and patron occur, a report should be filed and reviewed as soon as possible. If anyone is injured, regardless of who is at fault, EMS should be contacted.

The Bottom Line

Serving liquor is a great way to increase their profit margin, but it is not without risk. To protect yourself from liability, have risk mitigation practices ingrained into your daily processes. However, even that isn’t foolproof. The only guaranteed way to protect your business is to purchase a liquor liability policy that covers any damages or injuries resulting from alcohol sales or services. Unsure if liquor liability insurance is right for your restaurant? Contact one of Bikelane’s insurance experts today to find the best coverage for you.