Restaurant Insurance Tips - How To Serve Alcohol Safely

Restaurant Insurance Tips - How To Serve Alcohol Safely

While wine bars and pubs spend time training their staff on dealing with alcohol safety, it is often overlooked in restaurants, where instances can be just as common, particularly during the party season.

Preventing violence due to unnecessary overdrinking and the safety of your customers and staff is a crucial part of a restaurant owner’s role.

Should an incident break out and an injury occurs, you could find yourself on the end of a costly insurance claim under your Restaurant Insurance.


Customer Safety is Paramount

To keep customers safe while they enjoy themselves, you must be able to recognise the signs of intoxication and know how to intervene with intoxicated customers to avoid a potentially dangerous situation.

Key Signs of Intoxication

While alcohol affects everyone differently, some common signs of intoxication include:

  • Slurred or slowed speech
  • Losing one’s train of thought
  • Red eyes and an inability to focus
  • Decreased alertness
  • Staggering or inability to walk
  • Reduced fine motor skills, such as being unable to light a cigarette or to place poker chips on the table, etc.
  • Drinking extremely quickly
  • Acting overly friendly or inappropriately

Educate Your Staff To Known When Enough is Enough

To monitor how much a customer is drinking, use the traffic lights system (rather than trying to remember the number of drinks that they have consumed), that way if you have multiple servers you can ensure vigilance across the restaurant.

Here’s how the system works:


The customer shows no signs of intoxication, is in a good mood and is not drinking rapidly. You have the “green light” to serve them.


The customer is not yet intoxicated, but is drinking quickly, is in a “down” mood or is showing signs of impairment.

You should stop serving this customer before they become intoxicated; proceed with caution.


The customer is showing signs of intoxication, may be depressed, aggressive or angry, is drinking fast intending to get drunk.

You should STOP serving this customer and seek assistance in removing the customer from the facility safely.


Dealing With Intoxicated Customers

You have a right to refuse service to customers who are intoxicated. Keep the following in mind when trying to cut someone off:

  • Politely deny service and offer food or alcohol-free drinks.
  • Avoid threatening statements like “You are drunk.” Instead, put the focus on yourself by stating “If I serve you another drink, I may lose my job.”
  • Offer to call the customer a taxi or a friend for a ride.
  • Be firm. Once you’ve refused service, don’t back down.
  • Stay calm and remain in control. Serve other customers to avoid unnecessary conflicts.
  • Be courteous while dealing with someone who may get unruly.

Training and roleplays will help your team to develop the confidence and skill to handle difficult situations.

Supervisors should also be encouraged to support their staff at all times to ensure consistency.

In the event of a violent incident, fill in an incident report documenting the measures that you took to control the intoxicated person. This will assist in defending against liability.

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