How Bartenders Steal & How We Catch Them

BARTENDER THEFT - Bartender not ringing drinks, intoxicated bartender, employee drug use, liquor violations, heath code violations, smoking law violations.

September 22, 2011 00:31 by administrator


Bartender Summary

  • Bartender 1 – Caucasian male with xxxxx and xxxxxxxxxx wearing xxxxxxxxxxxxxx shirt and xxxxxx with tattoos on xxxxxx.
  • Bartender 2 – Caucasian male with xxxxxx wearing a xxxxxxxxxx down shirt and xxxxxxxxx with black Dickies hanging down below his butt.

Agent and associate took a seat at the bar and were greeted by bartender 2 within 2 minutes.

He approached and spun napkins onto the bar top and asked what we would like to drink.  He did not offer a specialty drink menu so agent asked for one. 

He did not introduce himself or ask if we would like anything to eat.

Bartender 2 set about making the drinks we ordered right away and returned with them placing them on the cocktail napkins and chatting with us for a moment before moving down the bar to speak to another guest.  Bartender 2 made no move to the POS, did not quote us a price and did not request a credit card for a tab.  There was an issue with one of the drinks. (Please see food and beverage summary for details.)

Later in the evaluation associates drink was completely empty for nearly 5 minutes before bartender 2 approached and asked about another.  While he made the drink he was quite engrossed in a conversation with another bar guest and remained so when he dropped off the drink.  He did not take the empty away and made no move to the POS to record the drink.

Agent observed bartender 2 rolling a beer bottle on top of a cooler behind the bar and when the guest asked why he was doing this, the bartender went into detail about how it breaks up the sediment from the bottom of the bottle, but then when he opened the beer right after rolling it, a large amount of it foamed over onto the top of the cooler.  Agent thought it was a nice touch to roll the guests beer, but felt it was a bit odd that he allowed it to spill on the top of the cooler and neglected to clean it up.

Agent and associate had nearly no dealing with bartender 1 during the evaluation; however agent noted from afar that bartender 1 was quite stone faced.  He did not smile, introduce himself, or offer any pleasant welcoming behavior to any of the guests he was observed dealing with.  He was quite sarcastic which a few of the guests found amusing, but agent felt he could have attempted to be much friendlier.

For quite a while bartender 1 was observed sitting on a foot stool behind the bar doing something in one of the coolers which agent surmised was possibly taking inventory or cleaning.  For another large portion of the evaluation the bartender 1 was gone from behind the bar leaving bartender 2 to handle the bar top on his own which was not too busy for a single bartender at the time.

Agent observed bartender 1 pour Don Julio into a large snifter which he had laying on its side apparently to measure the pour.  Agent estimated that there was 4 – 5 ounces of tequila in the snifter when the pour was complete and agent does not believe that the guest ordered a double; regardless it was more accurately a quadruple. Bartender 1 did move right to the POS after serving the drink.

This is also an ADLLC Violation and a dram shop issue that management should address.


4-244. Unlawful acts

23. For an on-sale retailer or employee to conduct drinking contests, to sell or deliver to a person an unlimited number of spirituous liquor beverages during any set period of time for a fixed price, to deliver more than thirty-two ounces of beer, one liter of wine or four ounces of distilled spirits in any spirituous liquor drink to one person at one time for that person's consumption or to advertise any practice prohibited by this paragraph.

Agent noted that there were no tab chits in front of any guest during the evaluation and no guests were observed paying cash as they went either.

Agent observed bartender 2 pour two 6 count shots of Sambucca into small rocks glasses, hand one to the guest and keep one for himself, toast the guest and drink the alcohol while standing behind the bar.  He then continued talking to the guest and made no move to the POS to record; which is obviously an ADLLC Violation, not to mention a theft occurrence.


4-244. Unlawful acts

12. For a licensee, when engaged in waiting on or serving customers, to consume spirituous liquor or for a licensee or on-duty employee to be on or about the licensed premises while in an intoxicated or disorderly condition.

Agent observed bartender 1 serve three 4 count pour shots of wild turkey to 3 bar guests while one of the guests appeared to be objecting and afterward, replace the bottle to its shelf, but make no move to the POS.

There were three occasions that agent observed bartender 2 or the server attempting to deliver guests food, but bartender 2 had put the wrong item into the system which is more evidence to agent’s suspicion that the bartender was not sober (see addendum). He incorrectly ordered xxxxx, xxxxxxxxxx and a xxxxxxxx dessert which ended up being offered to and eaten by other guests for free.  Not only was this a profit loss, but it meant the guest that ordered food had to wait even longer for their food to be prepared, and ones that were going to order food didn’t because they got free food.

Bartender 2 was observed serving numerous drinks during the evaluation and there were only 5 times that agent observed him approaching the POS.  When he did approach the POS he did not even look around as if he was attempting to remember what he had served to enter it in all at once.  Agent estimates that bartender 2 served 10-15 drinks that were not accounted for in the POS.

Other than the 3 aforementioned shots of Wild Turkey, the few drinks that agent observed bartender 1 serve appeared to be entered into the POS.

There were occasions during the evaluation that agent noted glassware not being removed from in front of guests when they received new beverages and also the top of the dishwasher and both sides of the service well located at the end of the bar were covered with dirty dishes.  Agent understands that it is important for bartenders to spend time engaging with guests, but it is equally important not to let things become unsightly or unhealthy.

During the evaluation agent observed 3 men smoking cigarettes at the bar and neither of the bartenders appeared to be concerned in the least about the issue at all.  In fact, bartender 2 was observed lighting one of the men’s cigarettes with a match for him.  The men were at the bar for some time and they all had more than one cigarette.  Not only is this a violation of the AZ Smoke Free Act, but it is disrespectful to other guests.  Agent and associate were certainly not asked if we minded and neither were any of the other guests at the bar.  Agent was appalled that the bartenders would allow such behavior and totally disregard the law and the feelings of the other guests in the establishment.

36-601.01. Smoke-free Arizona act

As defined by the law, all violating proprietors are subject to be fined up to $500 for each offense.

B. Smoking is prohibited in all public places and places of employment within the state of Arizona

I. An owner, manager, operator or employee of place regulated by this law shall inform any person who is smoking in violation of this law that smoking is illegal and request that the illegal smoking stop immediately.

K. A person who smokes where smoking is prohibited is guilty of a petty offense with a fine of not less than fifty dollars and not more than three hundred dollars.

When agent and associate were ready to tab out bartender 1 was away from the bar and had been for 15 minutes or so and bartender 2 was chatting with a guest.  It took 10 minutes for agent and associate to get bartender 2 attention to get our tab so we could close out.


Food and Beverage Summary



We chose a seat at a booth on the left side of the establishment from the entrance.

The specialty cocktails ordered were:

xxxxxxxxxxx which was served with a lime wedge in a stemmed water glass, tasted good, but the ginger beer was a bit flat.

Old Fashioned which was served in a rocks glass and garnished with a black cherry in the center of an orange twist.  The drink was very good and a bit different than the typical old fashioned, but was a nice twist.

xxxxxxxx was served in a martini glass with grenadine pooled in the bottom.  The drink was fruity and very cold and was quite good.

xxxxxx which was served on the rocks with a lime wedge.  The Daiquiri was quite different than expected which agent believes was from the Maraschino Liquor and the grapefruit juice was clearly not fresh as it almost tasted of aluminum, but overall the cocktail was good.

xxxxxxxxxx which associate was excited to find that the establishment carried as it is their favorite and very difficult to find.

For appetizers we ordered the xxxxxxxx and the xxxxxxxxx which were both absolutely delightful!!

The xxxxxxxx were extremely tender, juicy and flavorful and the horseradish sauce had just a  tiny bite to it which was nice as it wasn’t overpowering.

The xxxx was delicate and fresh and the xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx were a beautiful presentation and an amazing flavor combination.  Thumbs up to the chef!!

When the server dropped the check he said “Tonight is industry night, and I’m sure you are in the industry, so I gave you the discount.” Smiled and walked away without verifying.  Agent noted that the discount was 25%.

During the bar evaluation associate sat down first and had brought their Heffe from the dining table setting it on the bar.  Bartender 2 walked up and threw the beer away and asked what he could get associate to drink.  Associate said that he had thrown away the last half of their beer, so bartender 2 vehemently apologized saying that he is always doing that and got him a new beer saying that it was on him.

Agent sat and asked if there was fresh grapefruit juice available to which the answer was no that they were out, so agent ordered a xxxxxxxx.  Bartender 2 prepared the cocktail with a 6 count pour placed it on the beverage napkin and said it was on him because he didn’t have fresh grapefruit.

Only managers and owners are allowed to give away free alcohol. This is an ADLLC Violation.


4-244. Unlawful acts

3. It is unlawful:  For a distiller, vintner, brewer or wholesaler knowingly to sell, dispose of or give spirituous liquor to any person other than a licensee

Agent offered to buy another guest at the bar a drink at this juncture and they ordered a xxxxxxxxx from Bartender 2.  He poured a 9 count of makers, a 4 count of Rye and then swirled the glass with an Italian sweet vermouth that he said was excellent and promised that they would love this xxxxxx.  He poured the drink from the tin into the martini glass and then dumped about 2 ounces of the mix down the drain.  He made no move to the POS.

Agent called bartender 1 over because I couldn’t get bartender 2’s attention and asked that he add some soda water to the xxxxxxxxxxx as it was made with just water and had no fizz at which time associate stated that it did look like he had only pushed one button and that he may not have known how to make a press.  Bartender 1 rolled his eyes and rudely said to associate that he knew how to make a press.  He then dumped the drink and made a fresh one, but clearly only put sprite in the glass, delivered the drink, made no move to the POS or a comp tab and walked away without a word.  Agent found him quite abrasive.

Later in the evaluation, agent, associate and the 3rd party were chatting about different liquors and specifically over 100 proof items.  We were all agreeing that in certain bars it is not a good idea to have Wild Turkey 101 and Bacardi 151 because of the way people have a tendency to become belligerent when they drink them. 

Bartender 1 jumped into the conversation saying that he totally disagreed and that he was going to prove us wrong to which agent asked how.  He proceeded to get a bottle of “Dirty Bird” he called it, from the dog pound, pour us 3 shots with a laugh and put the bottle away.  He said that he bet we wouldn’t turn into assholes at all.

Later in the evaluation agent asked bartender 1 about the men smoking at the bar to which he said, “as long as you promise to pay the entire fine, including the bar’s fine, you can do whatever you want.” 

He went on to say that they were rich guys that came in all the time and who was he to tell them no.  Agent asked “So I can light up right here if I want?” and bartender 1 replied, “I doubt you could afford it.”  As aforementioned, agent was appalled at this situation and the total disregard by the bartenders.

Throughout the evaluation, all from bartender 2, we ordered 2 more x xx beyond the initial free one, one more xxxxxxxxxxx (which was made with water again) and 4 xxxxxxxxxx for the 3 of us together at the bar. 

The 3rd party agent and associate were with paid for a round of 3 Orange Blossom Beers which was $21 + $5 tip. 

When agent asked for the tab and a bottled water from bartender 2 he said that we didn’t have a tab because he bought the 1st beer and agent’s xxxxxxxxx and that the other guest paid for the 3 more xxxxxx.  Agent said that we had had more than that plus the water and he smiled saying he did not know what I was talking about. 

Agent gave him $20 and said thank you and he put it directly in his pocket, not the tip jar, and left the bar area with a cigarette in his hand.

This means that in addition to the $22.75 discount that the server gave us for no cause of our doing we received 2 xxx beers, 1 xxxx drink, 1 xxxxx Manhattan and 1 xxxxxx for free. All this given to a complete stranger, let alone a trained bartender theft integrity spotter.

That is about $65.75 loss in sales.  Not to mention the 3 shots that we did not order, the 3 food items that were ordered wrong by bartender 2 that other guests ended up eating and the over pours, none of which agent observed being accounted for in any way.


Agent and associate both agreed that it appeared that bartender 2 was on some sort of stimulant drug which we both surmised to be cocaine or methamphetamine. This obviously cannot be substantiated without testing; however, this Agent strongly suspects it.

He did not blink and he bugged his eyes out when speaking, his movements were exaggerated and extremely fast yet clumsy, he spoke quite loud and fast,  he had a difficult time finishing a thought before derailing to another, he was constantly fidgeting with something including sticking his hands in the front and back of the waistband of his pants, etc.

This is an ADLLC Violation.


4-244. Unlawful acts

24. For a licensee or employee to permit the unlawful possession, use, sale or offer for sale of narcotics, dangerous drugs or marijuana on the premises.

Michael Zenner - CEO      
Eye Spy Spotter Services Inc.  (blog)
Hospitality Checkpoint PLLC
PI Lic. 1597616

PO BOX 995 Gilbert AZ 85299
Office: 480-777-7056
Toll Free: 800-880-0811

© Eye Spy Spotter Services Inc. 2011

Bartender Theft - Theft occurance, Employee drug use while on duty.

February 26, 2011 18:08 by administrator


Facility Summary

The agent approached the facility from xxx Road.  It was difficult to find the establishment, despite directions, given its location facing a street interior to the shopping plaza, and the lack of signage around the perimeter.  Only after asking directions a second time was the agent able to locate the facility.

A few parking spaces are available in front of the building, while the majority of the parking is to the rear.  Large signage hangs above the rear entrance, as well as in front.

A patio along the side of the building was barren, with no seating and clearly not in use, aside from as a smokers’ haven.  One guest was observed being locked out, unable to get back in through the patio door from which she exited.  A retractable door to what appeared to be a bar was down.  An ash urn on the patio was filled with butts and trash.

The windows along the front of the facility were dirty and in need of cleaning, with cobwebs accumulated in the corners.  The sidewalk in front of the entrance had some trash, and the covered area immediately in front of the large entrance doors had trash and debris, and was very barren.  A large foot mat would serve both as an appealing aesthetic as well as to keep the area clean.

The agent was struck by the overwhelming smell of marijuana outside the entrance.  He again smelled the drug when inside the establishment; please refer to the Cocktail Summary for details.

The entrance delivers guests into a very large room with a very large bar in the middle.  High-top tables surround most areas of the bar, while a dance floor and stage are to the far right of the room, and dining tables and booths are to the far left.  A host desk is immediately in front of the entrance, and a small store for branded merchandise is around the left corner.

An enclosed corral with a mechanical bull is around the right corner from the entrance, across from the bar.  An employee manned the desk next to the bull, rides on which were apparently offered for a fee.  At no time during the visit did a DJ or MC use the microphone to announce the evening’s events, any specials, any upcoming events, or call attention to the mechanical bull.  Given the large size of the establishment and various options for entertainment, it would be useful to have such announcements.

The temperature inside the establishment was cool, particularly in the cocktail areas closest to the stage, where it was cold enough to be uncomfortable.

Televisions hang above the bar and throughout the room, with three large screens above the stage.  The screens broadcast sporting events—mostly football.  A large screen above the mechanical bull showed country music videos that did not coincide with the music playing over the audio system.  The music was at a volume appropriate for the size of the room and number of guests; however, when the band began playing, at 9:05pm, the volume was quite excessive, and it was difficult to hear someone sitting right next to you.

The table tops and floors were clean, and all furniture appeared in good condition.  The bar top was wet in areas; when asked to clean it, the bartenders left the dirty rags sitting on top of the bar.  This is an AZ Health Code Violation. Flyers for upcoming events were scattered on the bar top.

Restrooms are located along the rear wall of the facility, to the left of the rear entrance.  The facilities were large, with many stalls and sinks, and had a simple yet appealing décor.  One of the sinks in the women’s restroom was not functioning, but the remainder of the fixtures in both restrooms appeared operational.  Most stalls had paper trash littering the floor.  The restrooms were attended late in the visit by pleasant, friendly employees.

The attendant in the women’s restroom was a female of Asian descent.  She sat on a backed stool blocking the hand dryers and handed out folded paper towels.  She was pleasant and informed guests of fixtures that were broken.


Cocktail Summary

·       Cocktail 1:  Female, 5’6”, Caucasian, in her twenties, with a slender build, blond hair, and wide-set eyes.  The receipt she provided gave her name as Xxxxxx.

·       Cocktail 2:  Female, 5’5”, Caucasian, in her late twenties, with a slender, muscular build and dark hair worn in a long pageboy.  She was very tanned and wore a black tank top; her physique and the way in which she carried herself suggested she is an athlete.

Xxxxxx approached the agent and his associate six minutes after they were seated in the cocktail area.  She gave a quick greeting and asked if she could get them something to drink. 

She did not require identification (under 30) and did not suggest any upsell options.

Before leaving the table with the order, Xxxxxx offered a menu and asked whether the agent and his associate wanted to keep a tab with her.  She required to hold a credit card to keep the tab. 

She did not introduce herself.

Xxxxxx quickly returned with the drinks, and checked on the agent and his associate appropriately.  She was prompt in delivery of all items and visible on the floor even when not in proximity of the agent’s table.

Both cocktail servers appeared to check in with their tables in appropriate intervals.  They were also quick to clear glassware and tables after guests departed.

At one of Xxxxxx’s approach to the table, the agent and his associate were immediately overwhelmed by the smell of marijuana.  They smell did not appear to be caused by the proximity of any other person.


4-244. Unlawful acts

24. For a licensee or employee to knowingly permit the unlawful possession, use, sale or offer for sale of narcotics, dangerous drugs or marijuana on the premises.

When the agent requested his tab, Xxxxxx first confirmed he wanted it on the card, and then delivered an itemized receipt, two credit card slips, the agent’s card, and a pen, all in a check presenter that contained no promotional material.  She thanked the agent and his associate; she did not return to the table to collect the check prior to the agent and his associate departing.

The agent ordered a non-alcoholic beverage when requesting the tab as an pre-text integrity check, as such items are often omitted in such situations, either unintentionally or in hopes of garnering a larger tip.  The item was included appropriately on the tab and lending credit to this server’s integrity.

Bartender Summary

·       Bartender 1:  Female, 5’0”, Caucasian, in her twenties, with an average build and long, straight, very dark hair.  She wore jean shorts and a black tank top.  The receipt she provided at the end of the visit identified her as Xxxxxx.

·       Bartender 2:  Female, 5’4”, Caucasian, in her twenties, with an average build and short, blond hair.  She wore jean shorts and a yellow tank top tied up in the back.       

·       Bartender 3:  Male, 5’10”, Caucasian, in his twenties, with a slender yet muscular build and what appeared to be a bald or shaved head underneath a cap.  He wore jeans and a black tee shirt.

·       Bartender 4:  Female, 5’5”, Caucasian, in her twenties, with an average build and dark hair with highlights.  She chewed gum with an open mouth.

·       Bartender 5:  Male, 5’10”, Caucasian with a dark complexion, a bald or shaved head, and a very short beard.  He had a muscular build and chewed gum.  He worked the end of the bar closest to the dining area.

·       Bartender 6:  Male, 5’11”, Caucasian, in his early twenties, with a slender, muscular build, a round face, and short, dark hair.  He had many tattoos on his arms and worked the end of the bar closest to the stage.

·       Bartender 7:  Male, 5’8”, Caucasian, in his late twenties or early thirties, with a muscular build, very short, dark hair, deep-set eyes, and many tattoos.  He had a beard and a small goatee patch under his bottom lip.  He wore a black tee shirt that appeared to be an advertisement for UFC fighter xxxxxx xxx.

·       Bartender 8:  Male, 6’1”, Caucasian, in his twenties, with a blond buzz cut and a lean build.  He wore jeans and a black button-down shirt.

·       Barback:  Male, 5’6”, Caucasian, in his late teens or early twenties, with a thin build and light-brown or blond hair worn under a hat, with a little ponytail or mullet in the back.

Bartenders 1, 2, and 3 were behind the bar when the agent and his associate approached.  Bartenders 4 and 6 were behind the bar after another thirty minutes.  The remainder of the bartenders were behind the bar by midway into the visit.

The agent sat at the bar for several minutes before a bartender acknowledged him. 

Xxxxxx eventually approached with a very casual greeting, asking if she could get him and his associate something to drink.  She offered upsell options and did not require identification (one guest under 30 years).

Xxxxxx filled the round promptly and delivered it without cocktail napkins or coasters.  She asked if the agent and his associate wanted to start a tab and requested a credit card to do so. 

She appeared to ring in the round immediately; she did not place a tab in front of the agent, and did not introduce herself.  From the initial interaction, she appeared either unfriendly or uninterested.

Within several minutes, Xxxxxx returned and offered menus.  She did not make any suggestions or mention any specials.  She did not return to ask whether the agent and his associate had decided on any food for another twelve minutes.

The appetizer arrived after eight minutes.  Xxxxxx, having not provided any predrops, followed up after two minutes with plates, silverware, and napkins.

Shortly thereafter, Xxxxxx began interacting more with the agent and his associate, and proved very friendly and personable.  She inquired as to how they liked the food and went out of her way several times to try to accommodate the agent’s special request.  Please refer to the Food and Beverage Summary for details.

The bartenders were not very quick to notice the need for additional rounds, nor did they seem to habitually “sweep” the bar to check in on guests.  They spent most of their attention with several groups who appeared to be friends or maybe regulars, or talking amongst themselves.  They acted more as order takers as opposed to being pro-active about increasing sales.

Bartender 2 drank from a capped Solo cup while behind the bar.  Bartender 1 drank an unidentified brown liquid from an uncapped plastic cup behind the bar.  The bartenders also passed around a plate of nachos and kept it behind the bar, apparently to be snacked on while behind the bar.

Bartender 3 noticed the need for an additional round while passing quickly by the agent and his associate.  He filled the order quickly and did not ask for payment or a tab name, and he did not move to the register. 

The order did appear on the agent’s final tab and therefore is reported as a possible theft issue.

Bartender 2, upon offering and delivering an additional round, asked for the name on the tab and immediately updated it.

In general, the bartenders did an excellent job immediately ringing in rounds.  All bartenders were observed to demonstrate accurate cash handling.  There was no cashing in or handling of tips from the tip jar.

Bartender 4 explained the tab procedures to a bar guest, explaining the card would be authorized for twenty dollars and returned to the guest.  This differed from the observed practice, of bartenders keeping the cards behind the bar.

Bartender 1 kept lip gloss behind the bar and applied it in open site of paying customers.  The agent did not observe any other use of personal items.

The bartenders utilized a free-pour technique for cocktails, and poured according to standards. 

However, there was a great deal of waste when pouring draft beer, however, as they habitually allowed lots of foam to spill over while pouring a draft.  Given the very cold temperature of the drafts the agent and his associate were served, there did not appear to be a need for so much draft waste to bleed off foam, which, in the Agent’s experience, is a typical indicator of insufficiently-chilled beer.

The bar staff appeared attentive to service bar orders and fulfilled them according to protocols.

Barback was frequently behind the bar, delivering food orders as well as restocking glassware.  Whenever he was behind the bar, he did a sweet of the bar top, looking for empty glassware and dirty plates.  He was pleasant and friendly when asking guests if they were finished with their plates and could they be removed.  He appeared to be a hard worker.

When the agent asked to close his tab, Xxxxxx delivered an itemized check that was correct, as well as two credit card slips.  She thanked him and his associate and wished them a good night.

Throughout the visit, the agent continued to observe the bar staff from afar, and saw no evidence of theft or cash mishandling.


Michael Zenner - CEO      
Eye Spy Spotter Services Inc.  (blog)
Hospitality Checkpoint PLLC
PI Lic. 1597616

PO BOX 995 Gilbert AZ 85299
Office: 480-777-7056
Toll Free: 800-880-0811

© Eye Spy Spotter Services Inc. 2010