Posted April 17, 2024
Incidents Happen: How to Protect Employees, Patrons, and Your Business

As a restaurant owner, you have taken great care in piecing together the establishment of your dreams. From choosing the décor, to designing the menu, to hiring the right team members, each step to opening and maintaining a restaurant is carefully thought out and executed.

The same care and commitment to excellence should be used when maintaining relationships with your patrons. Dining out is an experience. Whether patrons are meeting up with friends, reconnecting with family, or making a business deal, they should feel safe and appreciated while at your establishment.

Returning patrons are the bread and butter of a business. In a world where keyboard courage can easily take over the online review boards, it is even more important to train your staff on these practices.

Even with the utmost care on your part, patrons can still become disgruntled, disruptive, or even choose to dine and dash.

Below are some tips for handling situations where the outcome could create a liability to your business, especially if the duty to act with ordinary care is not perceived.

  • Train your staff on the proper treatment of patrons. An employee handbook and new hire orientation guide can serve as a training manual. Outline the responsibilities of your staff to patrons and coworkers, as well as the consequences for failing to meet expectations.
  • Have protocol in place, posted, and followed if a patron leaves a tab open or walks out on a bill.
  • In a dine-and-dash situation, take the loss as the restaurant. Do not pass it along to the server. Some states have laws against charging the server for the unpaid bill. The safety of your staff, and the integrity of your business, is worth more.
  • Avoid accusations, jumping to conclusions, using harsh words, or causing defamation of a patron. This may only escalate the situation.
  • Do not restrain or detain a patron.
  • When an incident occurs, make sure staff is trained on completing an incident report and, if applicable, gathering witness statements.
  • Know how to pull and store security camera footage at the time of the incident to avoid footage being lost or recorded over.
  • Call the local authority and allow them to handle situations that could be out of your care and control.
  • State “no comment” to any news media. Remind your staff to keep details about incidents to the authorities and restaurant ownership/management. Never post about an incident on social media.

As your restaurant continues to be successful and a favorite meeting place for diners, ICC will be here for you, offering products and services through dynamic insurance policies, onsite risk management, and safety education opportunities. Contact an ICC agent for more information about insuring your business with ICC.