How to Graciously 'Card' Your Patron - By John Hendrie

'Tis the bane of lounges, taverns, clubs and dining establishments – 'Carding' your Guests and Patrons to insure they meet the legal requirements for purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages.

LRA Worldwide We have required training for our wait- staff and management.  Our State ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) officials (even though probably downsized due to the economy) still make those visits.  Fines can be expensive and certainly the closing of our businesses is onerous.  So, we pay attention and make few exceptions, for the penalties way overrule our perceptions.

Let me relate a story about Michael’s Harborside in Newburyport, MA.  This used to be a dive, wild and wooly clientele, all clamoring for more booze and volume.  It was a shoddy and shabby business, yet right on the picturesque harbor.  Probably, six or so years ago, it was purchased and turned into a very nice Seafood Restaurant with revenues between $1 – 2.5 million.  It is one of several restaurants for excellent fish, lobster, mussels, etc. in the area, but a step above most of the compettion.

My youngest son took us to dinner there the week before Christmas.  There were three of us, looking good, feeling festive.  Then, he was cordially carded by the waitress.  Now, I am a fine looking gent with some natural gray framing my pate.  My better half is stunning, and, as she will tell you, of a certain age.  My son is 33, returning home for a visit before returning to Singapore.  He wears that two day beard look, with some sprinkled grey shown on the chin.  Even with a casual or more in-depth look, he is over 21.  If I had been carded, there would have been a massive gratuity. 

The conversation.  “May I see some ID, sir?”  “All I have is an expired Massachusetts license”.  That document goes to the Manager for inspection.  “Sir, do you have anything else?”  “Well, my Passport is at home, but I do have a card issued by Singapore, reflecting my work status.  This has my date of birth, as well.”  That then goes to the Manager for review.  The Manager arrives tableside and explains thoroughly the situation – why they card, what they accept as proof of age, and what the penalties might be for the restaurant.  She also mentions that she thinks he is over 21, but they are held to strict standards.  She handled this professionally and courteously.  And, although a nice chardonnay might have been apt with his lobster, a Sprite was ordered instead.  No harm, no foul (also, no booze).

The situation was handled just beautifully.  And, here is the kicker – the Manager gave him a $10.00 gift card for the inconvenience (which he later gave to me).  All parties were satisfied (particularly moi), and he had a beer later at home.   We will return to Michael’s.

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