Owning and operating a nightclub can be a very rewarding experience. However, high-traffic venues carry a high risk because waitresses and bartenders get very busy and may miss compliance checks concerning the sale of alcohol to minors and over-service of drinks. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the laws surrounding nightclubs and regularly refresh your compliance policies.
Some key areas to focus on include:
Be sure all your licenses and permits are up to date and active. During the pandemic, many business owners reduced compliance staff. Therefore, regulatory compliance renewals may have been overlooked. Now is the time to check.
Provide alcohol service staff with refresher training on ID checking. We strongly recommend that you use an electronic ID scanner, point of sale electronic age verification, or at least position “born on” signage that is easily visible to staff indicating the date someone must have been born on to be 21 or older. When wait staff is inundated with orders, they need a quick reference point when checking IDs.
3. Check Local Serving Laws
Double-check your local laws regarding permissible hours of alcohol service and operation to ensure you comply with local statutes. Many local jurisdictions change or temporarily modify usual operating hour requirements during some holidays.
4. Special Permits
If you plan to host any special events that will increase your usual capacity or extend the event outside your premises, contact your local code enforcement or business permitting office about any special permits you may need.
5. Over-service Training
Over-service is another issue you will want to address. Along with ID checking, train your staff on preventing over-service to patrons, particularly during special events. For example, you may need to create policies where bartenders monitor drink orders carefully or require customers to order their own drinks rather than purchase multiple drinks for a group.
6. Safety Monitoring
Monitor high traffic areas for safety issues like spilled beverages or obstructions that may cause a patron to fall or hurt themselves. In any venue where consumers drink alcohol, you must also ensure their safety.
7. Added Bar Means an Additional Permit
If you add a new bar within your premises, even temporarily for overflow orders or a special event, you may require additional permits or approvals from your local government, especially when the use will be long-term. Cultivate a healthy relationship with your local enforcement offices because ongoing communication with them will help prevent administrative fines and other penalties.
Post signs around your venue warning patrons of the dangers of overconsumption and the penalties for serving alcohol to minors. Doing so will keep patrons informed about these compliance issues and let them know that you are in compliance with all local, state, and federal laws.
When using your website or social media to promote special events or inform patrons of social distancing or masking requirements, review compliance laws regarding advertising. You must ensure that your ads do not appeal to minors and contain age-gate checks to reduce the likelihood that a minor will gain access to a happy hour or alcohol promotion advertisement.
10. Insurance Policies
Make sure your insurance policies are up to date. Consult with your insurance broker to be sure you carry the appropriate coverages and maintain the policies needed to protect your business from harm. Confirm that your coverage includes dram shop liability insurance.