What ‘The Woods’ Lawsuit Can Teach Restaurant Operators About Safe Alcohol Training

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We often hear about celebrity restaurant owners as they open their locations and garner as much publicity as their name can generate. What we don’t often hear about is celebrity owners embroiled in controversy regarding their handling of a basic operational responsibility -- like the responsible service of alcohol.

That’s why the lawsuit filed against Tiger Woods’ restaurant, The Woods, in Jupiter, FL is particularly heartbreaking. Most celebrity owners insulate themselves to these types of suits through corporate veils and other strategies and certainly have no insight into the day-to-day operations.

Unfortunately for Woods, he can’t claim that distance because his girlfriend, Erica Herman, operates the restaurant on his behalf. The suit was filed by the family of a bartender that worked for The Woods, Nicholas Immesberger. They claim that Woods and Herman should have reasonably known that Immesberger was a habitual alcoholic and should not have overserved him after his shift on December 10, 2018. Immesberger drove home drunk, crashed, and died.

As restaurant operators, few of us have any greater fear than the consequences of overserving a guest. Sure, you don’t really think about it, but it still looms in the back of your mind that every night of the week there is a potential disaster sitting at your bar or in your dining room. This particular situation is doubly troubling because it was a both staff member AND an individual that had already displayed that they couldn’t manage their intake of alcohol. Immesberger’s problem was his own, but because he was allegedly overserved at his workplace, things were even more complicated.

Of course, it really didn’t have to be.

Safe Alcohol Training Could’ve Helped Avoid this Tragedy

Safe Alcohol Training like 2 Cool Server Training can avoid tragedies.

This is where responsible alcohol service training, like with 2Cool Server Training, would have shifted the paradigm and saved a whole lot of people pain, anguish, and frustration. One of the most basic training goals for responsible alcohol service is understanding the way people approach alcohol and how to be proactive in managing it. In this case, the preferred responsible alcohol service policy dictates that you don’t serve alcohol to someone you know with a habitual problem.

This is a nuanced part of managing alcohol consumption that, had the team at Woods’ restaurant been trained properly, could have been avoided. Clearly, when someone has a significant problem with alcohol, there is no way to stop them from making that a problem for others, but not enabling the problem should be the goal of everyone that serves alcohol. In this case, the shields from liability are all gone. Immesberger was obviously well known to the restaurant, he was served alcohol after his shift, and subsequently died as a result of operating his vehicle while intoxicated.

Please know that we aren’t piling on Tiger Woods or his restaurant; we are merely trying to be frank about the errors they made in not managing this situation before it happened. What we are doing is identifying the value of requiring that your entire staff be trained in best practices surrounding the responsible service of alcohol. If you aren’t already demanding that your team be trained, then now is the time to implement that policy.

Let’s face it, most operators don’t have the resources that Tiger Woods possesses. Consequently, you can’t afford not to be keenly aware of the role alcohol plays in risks to your business. Most importantly, you have the power to avoid a situation like this and it’s as simple as training. Once you make this training a part of your culture, you’ll sleep better knowing that once again you have none of the scandals in your life that seem to have plague Tiger Woods.