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Thu 7 Aug 2008 04:00 AM

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Should outlet managers take more responsibility?

For expatriates, all-you-can-eat brunches are a well-loved part of the 'Dubai lifestyle', while for the hotel restaurants that host them, the events are significant revenue generators.

For expatriates, all-you-can-eat brunches are a well-loved part of the 'Dubai lifestyle', while for the hotel restaurants that host them, the events are significant revenue generators.

But as anyone who has ever attended a brunch will tell you, even the most civilised affairs can degenerate into drunken revelry, and some events are notorious for binge-drinking and brawls.

While I don't deny that it is the individual's responsibility to watch how much they drink, I can't help thinking that as a bar or restaurant manager, bartender or member of the serving staff, you have a moral obligation to look out for the people from whom you profit.

In some countries, such as the UK, bar owners and managers empower their staff to refuse service to anyone they believe has had too much to drink. In the US, bartenders and servers can actually be sued for over serving customers.

In my three years in the UAE, however, I have never seen anyone be refused service, even when the patron concerned could barely stand.

With beverage sales said to account for as much as 60% of revenues at some outlets in Dubai, it seems only common sense that F&B employees be trained to serve alcohol responsibly.

The National Restaurant Association in the US advises alcohol-handling staff use a simple "traffic light system" to help monitor customers' drinking (see www.restaurant.org ).

"Green means the customer has had little or nothing to drink and can be safely served alcohol," the organisation's website explains.

"If servers begin to see behavioural changes it may be a sign that the customer is being affected by the alcohol and has entered the yellow-light zone, meaning service should be slowed.

"Your staff should make sure that customers never become intoxicated and enter the red-light zone, where service must be stopped."

Foodservice establishments can also do their bit to help prevent drink-driving - of which there is a policy of zero-tolerance in the UAE - by liaising with the Road Transport Authority or private taxi companies to ensure cabs are easily available outside the venue, or by offering special promotions that reward designated drivers with free non-alcoholic drinks.

Alternatively, pass on the phone number for Saferdriver (+971 4268 8797 or +971 5048 88181) to customers who may have over-indulged. The organisation will come and pick up the customer and their car and deliver them safely back home after a night on the town.

A little extra effort on the part of F&B managers and staff could help prevent any harm befalling your guests once they leave your outlet.

Sarah Gain is the editor of Caterer Middle East.

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