Nightclub and bar owners beware, did you know that there is a legal doctrine of premises liability should a fight take place in your establishment? According to the website injurycoach.com, bar patrons are considered invitees and as such have “…a legal right to remain safe from undue harm and injury while on the bar’s premises.” The web site goes on to point out that bar owners must do “everything reasonably possible to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their patrons”. Another website, alllaw.com states that, “all bars have a duty to act reasonably to provide necessary security for their customers, and all bars have a duty not to serve intoxicated customers.” These duties apply to nightclub owners as well as bar owners and any other establishment that serves alcohol. So with the potential liability of a lawsuit hanging over you because someone might get drunk, stupid and get into fights, you might want to consider starting a bottle service that would minimize your risk and could actually boost your business.
A bottle service is a premium nightclub experience you can offer your patrons so that they receive V.I.P. treatment and great club seating. This is a package that can be offered for small groups of 2 or 3 or large groups that can be as many as a club can fit. A bottle service usually provides a bottle or bottles of a top shelf alcoholic beverage or wine and a bottle server whose job is to pour the drinks for a group. Bottles served to the group are protected with bottle locks and only the dedicated server can open the beverages. The bottle locks control who has access to pouring and therefore can be a strategy to keep underage drinkers and intoxicated patrons from being served.
You may be wondering how this service can protect your business from the potential liability I mentioned previously. First, the use of bottle locks limits the access of patrons to alcohol. The bottles can only be opened when the server is prepared to pour the next drink because this person acts as the group’s bartender. If the server is properly trained he or she can identify the member of the group who may be getting too intoxicated or might be acting aggressively and cut off any further drinks. By intervening in a timely fashion, the server is addressing both the “not serving intoxicated customers” concern and the provision for the safety and security of other customers.
This will not take care of all the patrons in a nightclub or bar who may be getting too drunk, but it does serve to control at least a specific segment. Another benefit to having a bottle service is that since it is a group that is purchasing the service, club management can make a stipulation in the contract that someone serves as a responsible party of the group. This may mean they are a designated driver or they are the contact if someone in the group is causing a problem. By taking such a step the club owner can demonstrate they have made a good faith effort to prevent patrons from getting out of hand.
Finally, a waiter or waitress can be a partner to club security personnel. They are in a position to monitor the activity of the group they are serving and they can be the eyes and ears of people who may be nearby. If they see a situation that may need to be addressed, they can contact management or security and defuse situations before they escalate. For example, the server is waiting on their group pouring drinks and providing great service. The server hears voices nearby getting loud and sees two patrons that appear to be in an argument. The server can call on management and have someone intervene before it turns into a brawl.
While it may seem that it is unreasonable to hold a nightclub owner liable for patrons who get too intoxicated or get into fights because people should be accountable for their own actions, nevertheless it happens. Owners and operators are held responsible unless they can demonstrate they have made reasonable effort to prevent such activity. Start a bottle service that includes the use of bottle locks and limit the chances of a lawsuit. You may also see your profits rise.