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Increase security without scaring guests

Increase security without scaring guests

Question:

As a restaurant and bar near a college campus, our clientele is mix of students and local families. There are times when the students get rowdy or argue and our staff is able to defuse it. On a few occasions the have been fights. For the security of the staff and other patrons we would like to have a bouncer on premise during the weekends. The fear is that the presence of security will send the wrong message to well-intentioned patrons and make them think they should be fearful of dining at this establishment. How do you suggest the new security program is rolled out while not losing customers at the same time?

– Shaquea Maggett, Hospitality Graduate Student, Drexel University

Answer:

It is a challenge to serve multiple constituencies. Your focus on the safety of your guests and staff is properly placed as managing this known risk may save you headache and money in the future. The legal standard is “reasonable care” for your guest’s safety. Rowdy college students have been in the news lately and they can be a tough market to serve.

You are also right to be concerned that, especially early in the evening, the forbidding presence of a bouncer outside your door can send a message that this is not the place for family dining. I know it would turn me off, were I dining with my family.

The key, I think, is to balance the safety of your guests with the image you present. Definitely hire some trained security if you feel its warranted, but deploy that security person in a discreet way where, for example, from 8-10 he may be inside the bar (or at its inside entrance, depending on your layout) to observe and support and then late night assumes more of the traditional bouncer role.

Also, look at your layout—is there a way to create separate dining room and bar entrances? And consider your operations—can an early or late promotion help to separate these two important but very different constituencies?

More on bouncers here.

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