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 - 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      
hospitality checkpoints Inc.  (blog)
Hospitality Checkpoint PLLC
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