We’re down to the final two articles on my series of ways your bartenders are likely stealing from you. So far, we’ve looked at a myriad of ways your bartender, or bottle service hosts can really rip into your profits. They range from the simplistic method of pocketing cash, to very sophisticated schemes to cover their tracks as best as possible. Continuing on with the 20 most commons forms of theft, let’s look at ways 11-15.
11. Theft of liquor by the bottle
This is one of those incredibly simple ways a bartender can steal from you. In this method, the bartender simply steals a bottle of booze from the bar, or perhaps the stock room. This is why it’s important to have control over your backstock. Something as simple as a lock and some basic key control practices can dry this method right up. Bottles can also be stolen right from the bar as well. In a busy nightclub atmosphere, a skilled thief can get away with this quite easily, especially if there are no inventory control measures in place. I’ve also seen bottle service hosts simply walk out with bottles of liquor after claiming it was dropped/spilled.
12. Collusion between cooks and the bartender
This one is more common than you would think. Line cooks are the last people you probably think of when it comes to liquor theft in your bar. It makes perfect sense, though. They have one of the most stressful positions in the bar. The order screen is constantly spitting tickets out and they have to keep pace all night long with little reprieve. They’re also dealing with angry managers, fussy servers and returned entrees all night long. Who wouldn’t want a shot of whiskey? Some dishes call for some type of cooking alcohol (whiskey, vermouth, brandy, wine, etc). These shots are normally accounted for with a POS transaction. If the bartender and the cooks are good buddies, drinks could always be on the house.
13. After shift drinks
Working in the service industry is rough, especially a restaurant. Most managers know this. I’ve known plenty of upscale restaurants and even some nightclubs that offer the staff one complimentary drink at the end of their shift. After a long night of dealing with the “VIPs” in the bottle service area, who wouldn’t want a drink? Here’s where we’ll do a bit of math. Let’s say you have 30 employees that work the evening shift. For this example, we’ll assume that only half collect that free drink tonight. If you have savvy bartender, they will keep track of how many comps you are allotted vs. how many were taken. During the course of the night, if they see those employees not cash in on the benefit, they sell those same drinks to customers and pocket the cash. On the POS, they use the code for the after shift drink and the inventory keeps things accurate.
14. Short pouring
This one takes a bit of math and usually a 1 ounce shot glass in lieu of the ounce and half. This works perfectly in a busy nightclub when the customer has already had one or two shots. The bartender switches from the standard shot glass to one that is only 1 ounce. By under-pouring three drinks, they know they can pocket the cash on every 3rd pour. This ensures that any drink calculations don’t show a shortage. Chances are, the customer will never notice the missing ½ ounce.
15. Shorting liquor in blended drinks
Simple, yet effective. Basically, the bartender either shorts the amount of liquor in the drink, or fails to add it altogether. They can then sell that same shot to another patron and pocket the cash. The inventory stays accurate and they line their pockets.
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