The 2014 VIBE Vista Award for responsible service, presented by the National Restaurant Association to Granite City Food and Brewing, considers all the requirements of establishing that beverage alcohol is served safely and responsibly. To do this, Granite City, the Minnesota- based chain with 30 units in 13 states, aligned the program with the company’s strategic mission, one of which is “Bringing Food & Beverage to Life in Everything We Do.” Granite City has worked diligently over the last year to make their bar program successful, increasing beverage mix by two percent in one year, and driving spirit sales by more than $500,000 over the prior year.
One company goal is reinforce a commitment to responsible alcohol service. For this reason, Granite City utilizes training and certification programs for all staff members, the first completed during new hire hourly training through a Responsible Alcohol Sales and Service Program (RASS). Granite City now requires that each employee that serves alcohol and every manager, both FOH and BOH, are certified in the ServSafe Alcohol Service Program as a prerequisite of employment.
Granite City’s new store opening process includes a full day of ServSafe training for all managers and staff, ensuring that all staff/managers are trained on the same policies from state to state to promote the company-wide strategy of selling/serving alcohol responsibly.
Granite City also implemented ‘Server Ready Cards’ that start every shift, goal focused worksheets geared at upselling, knowledge of products and responsible service of alcohol, with a line where staff needs to fill out the date of birth to purchase alcohol.
For training, several videos were created and added to all areas of the training programs. Monthly tips on responsible alcohol service from the CEO and the company training team were provided. For example, tips include: “Five things that make an ID valid and that we must check for,” and “How to properly stop service to a guest.”
Further, whenever Granite City runs companywide beverage contests, always included are a ‘Responsible Alcohol Sales and Service’ Tips (i.e. “Here is a reminder of what the five pieces of criteria are to mandatory when checking an ID.”) And the company added a responsible consumption message to all menus.
Granite City Food & Brewery offers many craft beers on tap in many sizes. They therefore customized the content of the ServSafe training based on the beer, alcohol content, and glassware used, and during implementation, discussed everything from automatically bringing water while someone was drinking an adult beverage to what type of Granite City food item would be best to offer while drinking an adult beverage. The Training Team covered everything from the ServSafe guides provided and attended two training sessions, versus the necessary one, to ensure everyone understands and could teach all necessary components and ensure operational success.
Weekly follow up to policy adherence for completion of alcohol training continues to drive a 95%-98% completion rate for our staff. Focus on routine follow up promotes a continued daily focus to the company’s dedication to responsible alcohol service. Prior to implementation, the company had 10% of servers state certified in alcohol: Now it is a condition of employment for all staff.