Responsible Service is Serious Business at Hooters

2016

Many operations pay lip service to responsible service. Hooters puts its money where its mouth is, which is why the chain took home the 2016 VIBE Vista Award for Best Responsible Alcohol Service Program among multi-unit chain restaurants.

Hooters utilizes many traditional responsible alcohol service tools: requiring IDs for every alcoholic beverage purchase, using proper guest counts, tying individual alcoholic beverages to specific guests, born-on signage, free cab rides, fake ID guides, and mandatory ServSafe alcohol training. But they supplement these internal initiatives with external resources like regular BARS Program and mystery shopper audits to make certain ID requirements are enforced.

For example, in 2011 Hooters produced a responsible alcohol video that is incorporated into training for all team members, both front and back of house. While most responsible alcohol service training courses focus on underage drinking and recognizing the signs of intoxication to help prevent over-serving a guest, Hooters says this type of training neglects the human side of alcohol-related tragedies. To overcome this gap, they partnered with a local police department and victim to discuss how lives can be ruined when guests are over-served.

All front of house team members and management must be certified in responsible alcohol service training. In addition, advanced parameters above and beyond basic regulations have been established for all general managers, regional managers, and directors of operations. In fact, they are certified at the highest level of knowledge – the instructor/proctor level of ServSafe Alcohol training – and are regularly updated with relevant information directly from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. Assistant restaurant managers hold advanced ServSafe level certification; Hooters requires this training even in those states without mandatory training requirements and in addition to any state-specific training programs, such as Texas and Tennessee.

In addition, Hooters adopted a color-coded nametag system to identify team member age groups (e.g. over 21 and under 21). This system denotes age groups directly on the team member schedules. Further, no management-level team member may drink within a Hooters restaurant.

As Hooters uses a proprietary, self-support POS system, a number of enhancements have been adopted to support responsible alcohol service awareness. Each POS terminal has today’s born-on date to remind team members of the legal drinking age. When team members log into work, and each time they place an order, they are reminded of that date. Certification information is loaded into the POS system. Any team member whose certification has expired cannot log into work without a renewal certification and evidence of completion.

In 2015, Hooters launched the "Golden Check Mark” Alert System inside the POS system. Every restaurant has multiple POS terminals that display a map of the restaurant, and any time a guest has their third alcoholic beverage on the table the POS system highlights that table with a golden check mark. The system makes it easy for a manager to quickly identify any table that requires a visit. This enables the manager to be a support system and second set of eyes, minimizing the risk of over-serving a guest. In the event that there has been an alcohol related incident (e.g., refusal of service, presentation of false ID, or lack of identification), the restaurant manager will complete the Hooters alcohol incident report within the POS system. Once the report has been completed it automatically notifies the regional manager, director of operations, and applicable corporate departments.

Hooters’ marketing signage includes free cab ride posters on each restroom door, dedicated born-on signage that auto-updates each day, and responsible alcohol consumption messages on all printed limited-time-offer (LTO) menus and the core beverage menu. Even though LTO promotions include an alcoholic beverage feature item, there is an emphasis on serving that item responsibly.