Jokes aside, who would have thought that your great chili recipe could turn into a risk? Impossible? Think again. Serving food and beverage has the potential to be a liability of major proportions. Food-borne illness, excessive alcohol consumption, foreign substances falling into the food from a chipped dish, and much more can cause you and your customers a significant amount of indigestion.
In the middle of all this risk is the health department. But, believe it or not, the health department is on your side and can be a great help to reducing your risk and liability. Ask your local health department office for assistance, and you will get it. Most states and counties provide a variety of classes, tests, and educational materials, including health cards, food-_handling guides, time and temperature guides, and more. Some state restaurant associations require their members to take class in food safety and sanitation. These classes are usually offered in conjunction with the state health department. I highly suggest attending one of these classes during the planning phase of your restaurant since it lend valuable information when setting up your restaurant.
If you are servicing alcohol, be aware of your customers’ intoxication. As difficult as it is, you are liable for the person’s actions once they leave your establishment in some states. I have had to stop serving drinks to a man twice my size (I am 6’3” and 200 pounds so this line does not work in my material. Please adjust this story a bit. HC) and offer to call him a cab. His response was to take a swing at me and proceed to his car to drive away despite various offers to get him a taxi. Instead, I ended up calling the police and reporting him as a drunk driver. Know the rules of your state requiring alcohol service and overserving—make sure your bartenders and servers do too. It is also important to ask all guests (some states require that you ID every customer regardless of age, so please remove the 40 year old comment. HC) that do not look at least 40 years of age for proof of identification. This can save you for an embarrassing infraction of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Commission, which take away your liquor license. Your state ABC Commission may have education tools that you can utilize to teach your employees about the responsible way to serve alcoholic beverages. Making friends with the local taxicab drivers doesn’t hurt either.
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