Responsible service should be the cornerstone of every restaurant and bar. One restaurant group exemplifies this commitment, and that company was honored with a VIBE Vista Award.
Winners of the 2012 VIBE Vista Awards were announced at the 2012 VIBE Conference held March 13-14 in Las Vegas. Recently, we’ve taken an up-close look at the winning beer, wine and spirits programs in a series of VIBE Spotlights.
In this issue, we’ll take a look at the winner of the Best Responsible Alcohol Service Program, Levy Restaurants. The National Restaurant Association sponsored the award.
Congratulations to the winners of all VIBE Vista Awards!
Levy Restaurants got its start 30 years ago by two brothers and their mother, so it’s no surprise that a sense of family still permeates its culture today. The Chicago-based company welcomes guests into each of its more than 100 locations and “treats them as family.” And, of course, they want to take care of their family.
“Maintaining a healthy and safe environment for our guests is one of the most important things that we do,” says Senior Human Resources Manager Ann Klerman. “Our managers and team members must be knowledgeable and well prepared to serve alcohol responsibly. Our ongoing training program for all team members is an essential part of creating the best experience possible.”
That’s why Levy Restaurants instills its “Family Serving Family Responsibly!” program in all of its restaurants. The program, custom-designed by the National Restaurant Association (NRA), involves on-site and online training as well as reinforcement of this education through an intranet site, internal audits and detailed incident logs.
As part of the Family Serving Family Responsibly! program, all front-of-house employees attend an on-site training with a NRA representative who understands the specific local and state laws for that area and also is ServSafe Alcohol certified. (ServSafe Alcohol is NRA’s responsible alcohol training program.) At the end of each training session, participants are quizzed to complete their training.
Then, to help reinforce this training, all front-of-house employees attend additional programs throughout the year, led by an Alcohol Safety Coordinator who is part of the staff. The coordinators conduct Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management (TEAM) and other ServSafe Alcohol courses and also are responsible for additional training and knowledge of any laws related to alcohol safety. “We feel that this position has given our team members that extra edge and knowledge when it comes to this important topic [of responsible service],” Klerman says.
Finally, all team members — including back-of-house employees — must complete online certification annually, available through the company’s website; no front-of-house employee can even begin working at the company until this training is complete.
“The NRA not only helps us provide a comprehensive training program for our team members, both online and in a live classroom format, but also helps us maintain all of our records, keeping us up to date on all regulatory alcohol compliance matters,” Klerman says.
At each of its locations, Levy Restaurants instill the importance of responsible service by requiring each manager to read and sign the company’s Responsible Alcohol Service manual and by diligently logging every responsible-service-related event — and positively reinforcing team members so they understand the benefits of reporting such interactions. The company also conducts exhaustive internal audits of training and responsible service; the audit score is directly related to bonus structure, so it keeps management on its toes.
The company’s intranet site also is crucial in extending this commitment to responsible service. It provides a bevy of resources, including links to articles and documents related to responsible service. It also tracks on-site trainings, so anyone in the company can check the training status of an employee.
Through its dedication to responsible service, Levy Restaurants creates an atmosphere for guests in which they feel comfortable, appreciated and safe.
“Family Serving Family Responsibly is at the core of what we do,” Klerman says. “Our people and our culture is one that cares about each other and our guests. Supporting our teams with the best training programs possible is essential to making sure that all of our guests have the best, and safest, experience possible.”