How Bartenders Steal & How We Catch Them - Hospitality Checkpoint is a Bar Theft & Service Staff Evaluation Company. We spot Bartender Theft & Evaluate Service Staff Standards.

Bartender Theft - free drinks for regular customer - laudering stolen money with tips.

November 15, 2010 18:13 by administrator

The following bartenders were observed:

  • Bartender 1: Latina Female, 5'7", medium build, dark hair to the shoulders pulled back in a ponytail, black quarter sleeve shirt, small hoop earrings and pendant necklace
  • Bartender 2: Latino Male, 5’9”, medium build, textured and gelled black hair and goatee, black patterned xxxxx tee shirt, upper arm tattoos
  • Bartender 3: Latina Female, 5'4", medium build, straight blonde hair past the shoulders, black xxxxx tank top
  • Bartender4: Latina Female, 5'6", average build, straight blonde hair past the shoulders, black xxxxx tank top

The agent was not greeted by any bartender after having waited for more than a minute talking at the bar.  Nevertheless, as soon as the agent entered, Bartender 2 stood near the agent, waiting to take an order whenever it was specifically requested.  In general, this was the case – even when at their busiest, no bartender was heard to approach a patron specifically.  More likely, they would clear an empty glass or two and somewhat awkwardly hang around waiting to be asked for another drink.  After ordering though, all bartenders immediately prepared, presented, and rang in all orders, never leaving the cash drawer open. 

When not hovering near a patron that seemed likely to order, all four members of the bar staff mostly leaned against the back bar and chatted.  Also, Bartender 3 was texting nonstop from 23:51 – 23:57, and reading a magazine from 0:03-0:09 even though the other bartenders were getting fairly busy at that point.

Bartenders 1, 2 & 3 were observed to be friendly and personable during all interactions.  Bartender 2 in particular did a good job of making patrons feel welcome and taken care of, and was happy to suggest a signature drink for a customer.  Also, rather than up-sell liquor by asking for a preferred brand, Bartender 2 generally just chose a non-well brand for the patron when one was not specified. Cocktail napkins were used consistently, even for room-temperature stemware.

Most of the bartenders had inconsistent pours that were too heavy.  Bartenders 1 and 2 routinely poured 5- or 6-counts (1.88 and 2.25 oz., respectively), and Bartender 3 had a consistent six count.  Only Bartender 4, who was also handling bottle service, consistently poured a standard 1.5 ounce pour, or 4-count. 

Even so, the average amount of alcohol wasted on this night was more than 25% of the ideal total. Clearly, this is an easily avoidable waste of the establishment’s liquor budget, as well as reducing sales by a quarter and opening up the establishment to increased likelihood of liability under New York’s Dram Shop law. 

This is also a problem for customers though, as they might be taken by surprise by how strong their drinks are, or find the drinks to be unpleasantly strong.

None of the bartenders were observed using an ice scoop at any time.  All four bartenders used the mixing tin to scoop ice for shaken cocktails, but Bartender 4 also used it to scoop ice even when making a drink in a rocks glass.  While this may be slightly better than using the glass itself, this still has the same drawback of possible biological contamination of the ice, as the bartender handles the portion of the tin that is going into the ice repeatedly, as well as the bartender’s hand often grazing the ice itself.  when glass is used, the possibility of physical contamination is added, further endangering the customer.  Even nonbreakable plastic glasses pose a problem though, as they are covered in fine scratches and tiny cracks, all of which can shield bacteria from any cleaning method.

Even more seriously though, each of the bartenders, rather than keep their tips and the registers’ banks separate, made use of some part of their tips on top of the cash drawer for making change.  In this way, they were able to exchange their small tips for big bills on the fly without having to make an extra step of it. 

Although this may seem convenient though, not only does it not save time (all the same steps must be taken as if all the small bills were exchanged at once), it also significantly increases the chance of errors (increases with number of times handled), and increases the number of chances that a dishonest bartender has to steal from the customer or establishment

One violation of standard comps procedures occurred when Bartender 2, ringing up a round for a customer he had been waiting on, told the customer that one of his drinks was “On me.”  This drink was left out when the other was rung in, so it was never comped or accounted for in inventory.  No other such violations were observed.

Bartender 4 was acting as a cocktail server, handling bottle service.  In so doing, she rang in all the bottles that she was presenting, as well as serving pitchers of mixers where applicable.

The back bar and bartop proper were kept well maintained throughout the night.  In addition to the attentive efforts of the bare back (Latino male, 5'8, closely cropped dark hair and narrow full beard, black collared shirt and slacks), Bartender 2 also made a particular effort to clear empty glassware where needed.  In general, even when busy, all bar staff were contributing and there was no indication that customers were being denied service or made to wait longer than they were willing. 

Bartenders 1 and 2 were both observed drinking behind the bar.  It is possible that one of the other bartenders was drinking as well, but the agent focused mainly on Bartenders 1 and 2, as requested.  All bartenders were dressed appropriately and behaved hygienically, with the exception of Bartender 2 licking his fingers when paging through a small notebook or contact book at 23:18.


Michael Zenner - CEO      
hospitality checkpoints Inc.  (blog)
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