As a bar, nightclub or restaurant owner or operator who makes a living off of serving drinks, you might be reluctant to meet with members of law enforcement, community advocacy groups and regulatory agencies. Such a gathering might indicate your license is in jeopardy — or worse.
But in more and more communities, licensees are voluntarily participating in such meetings. They are finding that being proactive about responsible service and forging ties with various community stakeholders goes a long way toward protecting their licenses and, more importantly, their patrons and others in the areas where they operate. It also ensures the hospitality industry’s voice is part of the discussion about preventing underage consumption, drunk driving and other alcohol-related issues.
Wondering how to get involved? Two upcoming events focus on the why and how-to of serving responsibly.
The brain trust behind the TIPS (Training for Intervention ProcedureS) program, Health Communications, will host the third annual Alcohol Responsibility Conference from Sept. 29 - Oct. 2 in Orlando, Fla. (www.alcoholresponsibility.com). Together with his team, Health Communications president and CEO Adam Chafetz developed a program that offers nuts and bolts information and discussions of social perceptions and policies regarding alcohol. Sessions include officer Leslie Pond of the California Alcohol Beverage Commission’s presentation on the ins and outs of fake IDs and Culinary Institute of America professor Pat Bottiglieri examining how the hospitality industry can reduce drunk driving.
The general sessions are must-attend for anyone involved in serving alcohol. A mock jury trial of a real liquor liability case, presented by Josh Greenbaum of the law firm Cozen O’Connor, will give attendees a chance to be a fly on the wall during jury deliberations. “The Great Debate: Should the Minimum Legal Drinking Age Remain 21?” will bring John McCardell, director of Choose Responsibility, together with James Fell, senior program director of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, for a spirited discussion. Finally, a panel discussion on “Man v. Machine: Can Technology Curb Alcohol Incidents?” will address how technology and responsible beverage service training can work together to reduce abuse and ensure responsible sale, service and consumption of alcohol. I can’t wait for that one; I’m moderating this panel of technology and training experts.
The sixth annual Responsible Hospitality Institute Networking Conference takes place Nov. 11 - 14 in Austin, Texas (rhievents.org/conference/index.html). The event’s purpose is to “create a unique bridge among key stakeholders seeking to better understand trends, maximize opportunities and minimize impacts from the nighttime economy” and “focuses on harnessing nightlife as an economic engine,” according to Jim Peters, who founded RHI 25 years ago.
The agenda includes forums exploring how community members — including bars, nightclubs and restaurants — can work together to address security and safety, noise control, trash removal, transportation and other issues that contribute to or detract from a vibrant nightlife economy. Presenters will include public safety employees, training providers, nightlife venue operators and researchers who will share their experiences from coalition-driven nightlife “zone” development. Kathryn Graham, researcher and co-author of Raising the Bar: Preventing Aggression in and Around Bars, Pubs and Clubs, will keynote.
So book your tickets to Orlando and Austin. The ROI on the airfare will be a solid grip on your license, an operation that’s in compliance, a staff that’s well-versed in responsible service and a business that’s a solid member of the community. NCB