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Do’s and Don’ts of Outdoor Service

April 5, 2024
A group of young adults sharing some drinks together outside

Summers mean more and more customers sit outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. As a server, it’s important to know the do’s and don’ts of serving drinks outdoors to ensure you’re not only providing a positive experience but also staying compliant with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC).


Keep Drinks Fresh

Insulated coolers and pitchers help keep drinks cold for extended periods. Depending on your specific needs, consider using a variety of sizes.

Refill ice regularly to maintain proper drink temperatures. Nobody wants a warm drink!

Cover beverages with appropriate lids to protect from insects, especially sweet drinks that attract them. Provide coasters to guests for additional protection.


Responsible Alcohol Service

Always check IDs, even for those who look visibly older than 21. Just because you’re outside doesn’t mean the rules change! Identifying fake IDs is especially crucial, but it’s vital to take extra precautions when working outdoors. The challenges of outdoor service can make detecting a poorly made fake even trickier.

Dim lighting or harsh sunlight can obscure fine details on an ID, making it harder to spot inconsistencies. Consider carrying a small flashlight or using your phone’s light to examine IDs more closely.

Outdoor settings tend to be more bustling and chaotic and, thus, more distracting. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed while checking IDs. Take your time to properly assess the validity of identification.

Fake IDs front and back are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Familiarize yourself with the security features of the Texas driver’s license and ID card. Also, remember that fake IDs are often from out of state because the person giving you the fake ID knows you won’t be as familiar with the design and security features. If your establishment doesn’t have one already, there’s a book called the I.D. Checking Guide that you can buy online. It has pictures and descriptions of the driver’s licenses and ID cards from all 50 states. It’s a great tool when checking out-of-state IDs.

Remember, if you have any doubts about an ID, don’t hesitate to ask for a second form of identification or consult with a manager. It’s better to err on the side of caution for your own protection and that of your establishment.


Don’t Enable Difficult Guests

Apply the same cut-off procedures outdoors as in: If a guest is visibly intoxicated, or you have reason to believe that another drink will cause them to be intoxicated, then cut them off and inform your manager immediately. If you encounter a rowdy guest, maintain a calm demeanor but be firm in your decisions — calm, but assertive. Don’t get into arguments or escalate the situation with difficult customers. Enlist the help of coworkers and management if a situation becomes difficult to handle alone.


Protect Your Patrons

Pay attention to your surroundings and observe guests’ interactions. If you notice a patron being harassed, don’t hesitate to step in. Alert your manager or security to any potential dangers and have a protocol in place for dealing with harassment or menacing situations. Call police, if necessary.

Patrons may also order an “angel shot,” meaning they require immediate help. Discreetly check in and ask if they need assistance. Create a safe excuse to leave the situation, if needed.


Promote Safe Rides

If a guest is showing signs of intoxication, suggest they switch to non-alcoholic drinks or food, or offer to call a rideshare or taxi. There should also be visible signage promoting designated drivers or local rideshare company information.


Responsible Alcohol Service Outdoors

Outdoor service presents unique opportunities and challenges for servers. By following the do’s and don’ts of outdoor service listed above, you’ll ensure a safe, enjoyable experience for your guests, protect yourself, and maintain your establishment’s compliance with TABC regulations.

Remember, serving outdoors is not about bending the rules, but adapting them thoughtfully for a successful summer season.

Need your TABC certification fast? Visit TABC On The Fly for everything you need to be a responsible seller or server of alcohol. Our fun, self-paced online TABC certification course will have you back at work the same day. So, let’s work together to keep the outdoor Texas hospitality scene safe and thriving!

Enroll today in our TABC online course!

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