On its own, CraftWorks’ ongoing commitment to safe drinks practices related to alcohol beverage service is commendable. But even beyond their dedication to making sure patrons imbibe responsibly, company staff and management also strive to be good, community team players. The Chattanooga, Tennessee-based company, which operates nearly 200-units, comprised of fourteen concepts, feels a sense of responsibility that extends way beyond their barstools and front doors, one that also often inspires staff to work shifts at food kitchens, assemble backpacks for students at underserved schools, and do foundation work.
But most importantly for their guests and the community, Craftworks rigorously maintains a safe and secure environment at each location, making them the recipient of the 2012 Cheers Best Chain Responsible Alcohol Service Training Program Award. “The result of not doing the right thing in this situation could be life altering to individuals and companies,” says Joan Crawford, director the Old Chicago division of training of CraftWorks restaurants and breweries. “The stakes are too high to do this inconsistently,” she adds.
Indeed, with nearly 12,000 employees serving approximately 80,000 guests each day, in restaurants that range from traditional casual dining concepts to fine dining, no room exists for error.
CraftWorks’ systematic responsible alcohol training program dates back fifteen years. The company’s concepts—which include Rock Bottom, Old Chicago, Big River Grille, and (as of November 2010) Gordon Biersch—consistently see sales figures that are slightly skewed towards alcohol, at sixty to forty percent, so alcohol safety is an area of unsurprising concern.
Right from the start, front-of-the-house employees delve into the challenges they may encounter during shifts, with mandatory ServSafe training classes for new hires that include lessons on spotting fake IDs and how to avoid over serving. Instructors strive to make the classes engaging and interactive, with methods including role-playing. Front-of-the-house team members are required to be ServSafe certified within sixty days of hire, and re-certified every three years thereafter.
CraftWorks employs more than 85 instructors and ongoing training routinely occurs during times that locations see higher alcohol sales—like March Madness. “Many of our locations are in high event areas. When there is high guest traffic in a very short amount of time [prior to or after an event], we have to make sure we have strong team member and management coverage to maintain our standards,” explains Crawford.
The corporate carding policy is simple: servers and bartenders ask for age identification from anyone who appears to be thirty-five or younger. If a guest approaches the bar during a busy time and requests to order two alcoholic beverages, staff is trained to not serve those drinks without seeing and checking the IDs of both individuals and confirming those individuals are the receivers of the beverage. Furthermore, Crawford points out that if there is an underage patron in the group, other servers and bartenders in addition to those waiting on the group will be alerted.
Strict compliance to the BARS program assures that all staff and management are on board with Craftwork’s safe alcohol service goals. Employees who fail to execute the company carding policy, miss a ServSafe alcohol class or otherwise fail to adhere to CraftWorks’ rules related to alcohol undergo disciplinary action, which may include a written warning, re-attending a ServSafe class, losing bonus eligibility and termination. Each restaurant submits a monthly report, and performance is governed strongly. If a location falls below grade, corporate focuses on that venue to get them back on track. So far this year, Crawford says, all reports she has viewed have made the grade.
By thoroughly training staff members, consistently enforcing policy and extending goodwill beyond the bar and kitchen, CraftWorks understands the importance of co-existing responsibly within the community.