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BARTENDER THEFT: Free Drinks, storing stolen money in the POS, making drinks with dirty glassware

November 27, 2012 23:42 by administrator

BARTENDER THEFT:

Bartender Summary:

There were five bartenders on duty on this Friday evening evaluation – three at the Xxxxx bar adjacent to the restaurant and two at the Xxxxx bar that serves as a xxxx by day. There were three barbacks observed simultaneously – two at the Xxxxx bar and one at the Xxxxx bar.

Xxxxx Bar:

  • Bartender Xxxxx: Caucasian male, 5’10’’, short-cut light brown hair

  • Bartender Xxxxx: African American male, 6’3’’, glasses

  • Bartender Xxxxx: Caucasian female, 5’2’’, brown hair worn straight with bangs

  • Barback 1: Caucasian male, 5’10’’, brown hair worn combed smooth

  • Barback 2: Caucasian male, 5’11, brown hair worn spiky, glasses


Xxxxx Bar:

  • Bartender A: Caucasian male, 5’8’, light brown hair worn slightly wavy/curly

  • Bartender B: Caucasian male, 6’0’’, dark brown or black hair

  • Barback 3: Caucasian male, 5’8’’, light brown hair worn wavy/curly



Xxxxx Bar:

The agent and my associate approached the bar and were able to slide into a standing place at the bar. Since we were standing at the bar directly in front of the Xxxxx POS, we were in clear view of bartenders Xxxxx and Xxxxx. Although Xxxxx and Xxxxx were making conversation with nearby patrons, neither demonstrated urgency to look over to help us out and take our initial order.

After we were there for approximately 3 minutes without acknowledgement, Xxxxx asked what she could get for us; the agent asked for a drink menu, which was not placed on the bar for easy access of patrons. She gave us a clipboard with the small sheets of paper with the drink menu and went back to talking to the patrons at the end of the bar and did not follow up with us. The entire experience so far was very unwelcoming.

During this time, Xxxxx had moved from the end of the bar chatting with patrons to the Xxxxx POS, where he appeared to be trying to figure out something with another patron’s tab.  After approximately 4 minutes since we had received the menu and made decisions on drinks, Xxxxx looked up from the POS and asked what he could get for us.

We placed our drink order with Xxxxx, which he took while standing at the POS – still mulling over a tab. After we placed our order, Xxxxx continued to stand at the POS and did not move to make our drinks.

After another 2 minutes, Xxxxx then returned to us and asked what we would like. We again placed our drink order, which Xxxxx then moved to make. Xxxxx, who was still at the POS nearby, was very apologetic and thanked us two different times for being so patient.

One of the patrons at the end of the Xxxxx Bar, where both Xxxxx and Xxxxx were spending their time when the agent and my associate were patiently awaiting initial service, appeared to be over served. The patron, a woman in her late 40s and possibly Latina, had bloodshot eyes, appeared to be unsteady on her feet, and was seen loudly singing and dancing at the end of the bar. She appeared to be personally known to the bartenders, which could have resulted in her over intoxication. This is a dram shop liquor liability issue that should be addressed by management immediately.

Another one of the patrons at the end of the bar who were captivating the attention of both bartenders Xxxxx and Xxxxx on this very busy evening at the bar with countless patrons waiting for drinks, a White male in his mid to late 20s was seen specifically honing in on Xxxxx. As the very busy bar continued to get busier, Xxxxx exited from behind the bar and was seen standing on the lounge floor talking to this patron. Both behind and outside the bar, this patron took her focus away from the many other patrons who needed service.

This lack of urgency was observed throughout the time at the bar. The bartenders seemed oblivious or impervious to the fact that patrons were stacked up three deep waiting for drinks. Besides Xxxxx chatting with this patron outside the bar, the bartenders, bar backs and managers casually chatted with one another behind the bar, in addition to casually chatting to patrons who appeared to be regulars. There appeared to be no individualized attention given to other patrons at the bar.

Whereas the lack of urgency on the bartenders led to longer wait times for patrons needing drinks, the lack of urgency on the behalf of the bar backs led to a messy and unmaintained bar area and a shortage of clean glassware. During our time at the Xxxxx Bar, many empty glasses and bottles sat on the bar surface for the entire time that we were present – unbussed, uncleared, unclean.

Besides the empty glasses and bottles that remained on the bar for the extend of our time there, the more pressing issue from the barbacks’ lack of urgency was the lack of clean glassware. The lack of clean glassware led to a variety of problems and solutions, depending on the employee.

To create a solution for the problem, one server (Caucasian female, 5’6’’, light red hair) came behind the bar to clean burgundy glasses that were needed at her table; this was resourceful and necessary for her service, but it also led to unneeded informal chatting between this server and the bar backs and bartenders.

To exacerbate the problem with a much larger, more concerning issue, Bartender Xxxxx took the lack of clean glasses into his own hands. Xxxxx was seen to take a dirty glass that was at the service well (placed there by the service staff from the cocktail lounge area), rinse it out with water from the gun, and make a new drink directly into this dirty glass. The agent cannot even begin to describe the hygiene and health issues with this troubling observation. Needless to say, my associate and I did not order anything else made in glassware for the rest of the evaluation.

Other than the unfortunate incidence with the curt rinsing of a dirty and used glass, Xxxxx seemed to do an adequate job behind the bar. He primarily tended to the service well, making the drinks for the dinner and cocktail crowd being serviced by the waitresses around the establishment.

In addition to making all of the drinks for the service well at the Xxxxx Bar, Xxxxx also helped out bar patrons who were patiently and impatiently waiting for drinks from Bartenders Xxxxx and Xxxxx. Xxxxx helped out the agent and my associate on one occasion. He was professional, friendly, and had integrity with the recording and charging of the two drinks ordered.

Despite his apparent integrity for only making and delivering drinks that are bought and paid for, both at the service well with chit sheets and at the bar with patron tabs and cash payments, Bartender Xxxxx consistently pours a heavy drink. He was seen to pour on average an approximate five count (4 count =  1 1/2 oz) for all drinks at the service well. Some drinks were closer to a five and half or six count.

Pouring additional alcohol more than what management prescribes for increased gratuities and/or social standing is a form of bartender theft. Agent further suggests that management pour test all the bartenders to ensure uniform accuracy.

All of the bartenders at this Xxxxx Bar had some issues with integrity. Outside of Xxxxx’s heavy pour count, Xxxxx was seen not charging the full or appropriate amounts for drinks, whereas Xxxxx was seen to top off one drink with more than the fair share of alcohol, again without charging or recording on any spill/comp sheet.

Xxxxx made a drink in a champagne glass for a female patron that included brandy and a sugar cube. She served the drink and the patrons stated that there was no brandy in the drink. Xxxxx replied that there was indeed brandy (which there was a four count that the agent had observed her pour), but the patrons were insistent that they could not taste it.

Without argument, Xxxxx grabbed the bottle of brandy and poured a three count into the glass that sat on the bar in front of the patron. Xxxxx did not charge for this extra shot, or record the liquor on any spill/comp sheet.  

Other than this occasion of not charging for the additional top off, she did not appear to have other integrity issues.

Xxxxx, on the other hand, was observed engaging in some questionable behavior at the POS. At approximately 9:51 PM, Xxxxx was seen to ring out an attractive, young female patron who had just ordered a vodka and tonic. Her tab read just over $3.00, which the agent believes is not the accurate price for even well vodka at this establishment. The patron left $6.00 as a tip, which further interpolates to the agent that the bartender had charged less than the going price for her drink.

There were two other occasions that the agent was unsure about Xxxxx’s actions at the POS. On two occasions, both in which patrons paid cash, he did not appear to punch anything into the POS before he sought out change and returned it to the patron. It appeared, to both the agent and my associate, that Xxxxx put cash into the till without ringing in the drinks on these two occasions.

Agent strongly suspects that this bartender his hiding stolen money in the POS Drawer. If this is the case, the money is being laundered via transfer of money through say the tip jar (watch for an abacus system of tracking the stolen money i.e. straws, toothpicks, pennies/nickels/dimes, storing info on cell phone).  It also could be taken out at the end of the night if these bartenders are allowed to "Z" their own registers. In this case, Agent suggests management have them do blind bank drops to detect any overages and stolen money. In both scenarios, Agent suggests that management start performing mid-shift random POS drawer pulls to detect possible stolen money in the POS drawer.

There is a possibility that this happened on more than these two occasions, but the setup of the POS behind the bar does not allow for ample visibility to monitor for theft and integrity. While the agent appreciate that each individual employee must swipe his or her card to access the POS, thus providing record of individual transactions specific to each bartender, the position of the POS flat to the bar surface does not allow any visibility beyond that of the individual bartender recording the drinks. Moving the machines to the back ledge would provide a more public view of what is rung in, thus holding bartenders more accountable.

In addition to the problematic nature of the POS screens being difficult to view from any person other than the person who is ringing in the drink, the current system is also difficult to track for integrity due to the fact that bartenders apparently leave their tips in the till. There is no actual tip jar, and no tips were ever seen. While this deters bartenders from counting or displaying tips to the public, this confounds the lack of clarity of integrity when money enters the drawer without clear recording. Moreover, if they are comingling tips with $0 ring and cash deposits, management probably has a real theft issue on their hands.

The issues with the integrity related to the tabs are further exacerbated when the bartenders do not consistently provide the itemized tab statement. Xxxxx was the only bartender during our visit to give us an itemized tab; the other bartenders either provided only the credit card slip to sign (i.e., Xxxxx, Xxxxx) or took the cash and provided change with no documentation (i.e, Xxxxx, Bartender B). The itemized tab should consistently be provided to patrons.

Bartenders Xxxxx and Xxxxx appeared appropriately dressed, yet Xxxxx did not appear as pulled together. Although he originally appeared to fit in well with the other bartenders in their full black apparel, there was some sort of white shirt or boxers clearly showing under his uniform. To add to the unprofessional nature of his appearance, Xxxxx continued to attempt to use flair quite unsuccessfully.
                                              

Xxxxx Bar:

We visited the Xxxxx Bar in the second half of the evaluation, when the patronage at the establishment had picked up substantially. Whereas we had a good locale to observe the goings on at the Xxxxx Bar in the early portion of the visit, the Xxxxx Bar proved much more difficult. There were no seats at the bar, and patrons were squeezing and pushing their way up to the bar in order to get served drinks.

Unlike the Xxxxx Bar, the Xxxxx Bar appeared to have a better balance between bar duties. Bartender A took primary responsibility for the service well, whereas Bartender B helped the patrons at the busy, standing room only bar. Although there was still a very busy crowd and an extensive wait for drinks, the clear divide seemed helpful for bar and service staff.

Despite having all of the patrons waiting at the bar area, Bartender B had no urgency or enthusiasm. The agent and my associate slowly inched our way up through the hefty crowd to the bar. Without counting in the time that it took to move up to the actual bar itself, we continued to wait for more than 10 minutes for the bartender to offer us drinks.

When my associate finally was able to get his attention, although we were standing directly at the small bar, he barely changed his affect when we posed questions about drinks available at this bar. When we tried to order a round similar to what we had just ordered at the Xxxxx Bar, Bartender B retorted that they didn’t have draft beer, as if we should have known the distinctions in offerings between bars.

As my associate turned to ask me what I wanted instead, Bartender B was gone. This was highly irritating, and if not on duty I would have left.

It took another 4 minutes to get his attention again, and my associate placed our drink order. He sought out the drinks, moved to the POS to enter the drinks, and gave the appropriate amount of cash in return to the agent.

At this point, the agent overhead a disgruntled couple who was waiting for a pen to sign their credit card tab; the pen never came from Bartender B.

In addition to Bartender B behind the Xxxxx Bar, Bartender A poured a consistently heavy pour count at an approximate six count. There were times that he was observed pouring closer to a seven count of alcohol in drinks. This is far to much alcohol and is a dram shop issue. Nevertheless, besides the heavy pour count, he seemed to consistently accompany a drink order at the service well with a chit sheet that came through the POS system.

Although Bartender A appeared to be doing a decent job of keeping up with the service requests for drinks in the well, there was one occasion when a server did not have the patience to wait for her drinks. On this occasion, one server (Caucasian female, 5’6’’, shoulder length, straight blonde hair) came behind bar to get her own drink near service well; she appeared to pour two glasses of champagne from a bottle that was already open at the service well. Agent cannot substantiate if these were properly accounted for and therefore scores it as a theft/integrity occurrence.

Unlike the two bar backs observed in the Xxxxx Bar who moved without urgency and rush, Bar back 3 appeared to be quite attentive and helpful. He moved around quickly behind the bar and appeared to serve the bartenders quite well.

Across both of the bars, there were quite a few negative trends. The bars were overcrowded and the bartenders appeared to have no real urgency to quickly attend to the patrons in need of drinks. Bartenders appeared to be friendly and chatty to one another, yet appeared to be incredibly unhelpful and unfriendly to patrons. Many patrons, at both the Xxxxx and Xxxxx Bars, were heard to complain extensively about the wait times and poor service of the bartenders.

Agent observed first hand one group of patrons actually left without getting initial service from the Xxxxx Bar. One patron was overheard saying, "I can't wait to Yelp! about this."

Additionally, throughout the entire evaluation, there was no observation of any food sales or even offering of menus. The agent understands that bartenders need to focus on alcohol and drink sales in the bar and cocktail areas at this later time of evening on a Saturday night; however, if the establishment values this extra push for additional revenue, perhaps appetizer menus or something could be regularly placed around the bar, rather than have bartenders have another thing on their plate to serve on an already overloaded plate to serve. Liquor liability experts also suggest that food be pushed in high volume alcohol serving areas to help possibly slow down rates of intoxication.

Most importantly, there was no carding across all bartenders of a very young crowd on this Saturday evening. Without door men or a security team ensuring that only patrons of age enter the establishment, bartenders must take the initiative to card patrons who might be underage. There were a large amount of patrons who did not only appear around 21, but appeared under 21. Carding was not observed at all. This is a major dram shop liquor liability issue that needs to be rectified, considering the younger crowd that grew as the night went on.

Michael Zenner - CEO      
hospitality checkpoints Inc.
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