Professional servers in Washington State who work the restaurant and bar industry in various cities in Washington are required to get a MAST (Mandatory Alcohol Service Training) permit, before serving intoxicating beverages to their communities. (A Class 13 MAST permit are for servers and bartenders at least eighteen years old, but not yet twenty-one. A Class 12 MAST permit are for professional servers and bartenders who are twenty one and over).
The food and beverage industry in Washington State and other locations in the nation is an incredibly fast-paced and demanding environment with various roles and responsibilities for professionals in the field. One such role is that of the professional server, who is responsible for serving food and drinks to guests and ensuring their overall satisfaction. However, with the provision alcohol, it is essential for servers to know when to discontinue alcohol service to guests exhibiting obvious signs of intoxication.
The responsible service of alcohol entails recognizing and responsibly handling intoxicated guests. Professional servers must be aware of the risks and consequences associated with serving excessive alcohol to guests, including potential legal repercussions, safety concerns, and damage to the reputation of the establishment. To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all, it is in everyone’s best interest to “cut off” guests when necessary.
The following are some of the best strategies that professional servers can use when dealing with guests who have had too much to drink.
1. Observe Guests Closely: The first step in responsible alcohol service is to keep a close eye on guests and their behavio
r. Recognizing signs of intoxication can be challenging, but professional servers must pay attention to a wide range of indicators such as slurred speech, unsteady gait, glassy eyes, loud talking or shouting, and more.
2. Monitor Drinks Closely: Another effective strategy for managing alcohol service is to keep a close eye on how much each guest is consuming. Professional servers should avoid serving alcohol to guests who have already reached their limit or who are close to exceeding it. Be aware of group dynamics and don’t be afraid to say no to a group if you feel they have had enough.
3. Engage in Conversation: By talking to the guests, professional servers can gauge their level of intoxication. They might ask how they are feeling or if they would like to take a break from drinking. These conversations can be an excellent tool to understand how the guests are feeling, and if they have had too much.
4. Offer Alternatives: If guests have reached their limit, suggest non-alcoholic beverages or food to keep them in the establishment for a longer period of time. A professional server should also offer to call a taxi or an Uber to take the guests home if necessary.
5. Train Your Staff: The key to effective alcohol service is training staff on responsible service. Provide training on how to spot and handle intoxicated guests, host additional classes if necessary, and have regular meetings with staff to reinforce the message.
However, professionals in the food and beverage industry must be aware of the potential consequences of ignoring the above-mentioned strategies. Over-serving alcohol to guests can lead to incidents of intoxication, fights, accidents, or lawsuits. Therefore, professional servers must be aware of their limit and priorities while providing a safe and enjoyable environment for the guests.
In conclusion, providing quality service revolves around a sense of responsibility to the guests and the establishment. By being aware of the signs of intoxication, serving alcohol responsibly, engaging in conversation, offering alternatives and training staff, professional servers improve their chances of providing a safe, enjoyable and responsible establishment to their guest and mitigating the risk associated with overserving. Ultimately, the responsible service of alcohol is much more than just compliance with the law – it is about ensuring the safety and happiness of guests.