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Employees Drinking On The Job - How Do You Handle It?


DonRocks
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Restaurateurs,

How do you handle line cooks who steal alcohol during shift?

Without getting into specifics, I have friends who have this problem that I *know* other restaurants have.

How do you combat it?

One (?) free after-shift drink, followed by restaurant cost for drinks 2 through "x" when the shift is over?

This is, in no uncertain terms, theft. How do *you* prevent it from happening?

It is killing the morale of small restaurants, as much from disappointment as actual loss, but the financial loss is real. The disappointment with the staff they genuinely care about is heartbreaking - they care about their staff, but the temptation is a clear a present danger, both to the restaurant's bottom line, but also to the trust that they place in their employees who they care about very much.

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The fun part of working for a tourist cash cow of a restaurant in the late 80s/early 90s.  If you worked nights, you had as many shift drinks after the restaurant closed as the manager closing up.  Working Saturday nights, the bartenders and wait staff would be loaded by 10 o'clock, last call for customers at 2, leave the restaurant when the sun came up.  We would go through a case of Bass Ale after closing the restaurant on Saturday nights.  Looking back, I can't believe that this was allowed to happen from a management perspective.  Of course, the bad double standard was that the kitchen didn't get to experience any of this, strictly front of the house. 

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Stealing = Stealing = Termination

+ If they're stealing booze, they're stealing other shit too. I guarantee it.

PS - I wish I could like Dave's post twice

It's not that easy, however. Good kitchen help is *very* hard to come by - it isn't like you can just fire someone, and have someone else doing their job the next day.

Yes, in theory, I agree with you 100%; in practice, it's much more difficult to implement. This is why I think (but I'm not sure) having well-defined policies spelled out for people is really important - it's a widespread and common problem.

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Zero tolerance during shift. I always appreciated the post-shift drink though--of course once that door is open you have to be pretty vigilant. A compromise is getting the line cooks/servers to bring/buy their own drinks after the shiftie, the sous or head chef has to be the enforcer on when/how this is allowed though.

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When I was a server, the policies ranged from "no drinking here, ever, even on your off day and even in plain clothes" to "woo hoo, open bar," and everything in between.  Frankly, I like the former - even at the jobs I enjoyed, I preferred to get the hell out of the restaurant and do my after-shift drinking elsewhere.  There are good industry bars near every place I've ever worked.

That said, one of the best things I ever saw as a customer was at Farm 255 in Athens, GA (no longer open, sadly) - the menu advertised the opportunity for patrons to buy the kitchen staff beers, as a way to thank them if you particularly enjoyed your meal.  We asked the bartender how it worked, and he said that there was strict policy that they couldn't actually drink the beers until the restaurant was closed and the kitchen was clean - BUT, every time a customer opted to buy the beers, a ticket would print up in the kitchen so they would know they were appreciated during the hectic dinner rush.  We also asked how many customers really did it, and he said it was a lot more than you'd think.  Restaurant makes money (the beers were not at full markup, but they were definitely covering their costs), employees are happy, customer feels good - win win win.

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Daikaya Ramen (a six-pack for $10).

Interesting.  How do places (BettyJoan's example for ATL) and here make this known to customers?  I've been to Daikaya many times and never had a clue this was in place. Maybe because you have to rotate the menu 180 and 360 degrees a few times when ordering until you've memorized the menu?  Maybe it's printed there but in a low-contrast, upside-down font in some romance language just to confuse things?  :D   How'd you know, Don?  Guessing someone told you but I wish more restaurants would do this and somehow communicate it to customers if they do.

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Interesting.  How do places (BettyJoan's example for ATL) and here make this known to customers?  I've been to Daikaya many times and never had a clue this was in place. Maybe because you have to rotate the menu 180 and 360 degrees a few times when ordering until you've memorized the menu?  Maybe it's printed there but in a low-contrast, upside-down font in some romance language just to confuse things?  :D   How'd you know, Don?  Guessing someone told you but I wish more restaurants would do this and somehow communicate it to customers if they do.

It was the last item on the top-left portion of the menu, definitely not hidden - it may not be there anymore.

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It's still on the menu on their website.  Look under the Drinks section (but darkstar 965, you'll have to turn the menu 90 degrees ;)

If you turn the menu 90 degrees, is it now imaginary?

The first time I went to Daikaya...I swear...it was like playing Twister with that menu. Then, upstairs opened and they introduced the 14lb magazine menus with all the pages stuck together. :wacko:   But, loved and love the place; downstairs especially.  Thanks for the point-out, cheeze. Will definitely look for that next time in and buy a six.  ;)

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