So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Tag Archives: checking IDs

Checking IDs

Not only are waiters food servers, order takers, psychologists, cleaning service  and general flunkies, we are also policemen absent the power to arrest.

Waiters are required to assure that anyone ordering alcohol is over the age of 21.

This can be a bit awkward which means that we don’t always do what we’re supposed to do. Some restaurants take a little bit of the onus off of the waiter by insisting that anyone who looks under <insert age like 25 here> gets carded. That gives the waiter an excuse when she or he cards someone who’s actually 30 (although most people would consider that a compliment, you’d be surprised how many don’t). Even if your restaurant doesn’t have a house policy, you can pretend that it does. Say something like, “Sorry, but my restaurant requires that we card anyone who looks like they’re 27 or under”.

There are some wrinkles:

In most locales, you have to refuse service to anyone that isn’t carrying a picture ID, even if they look like me, someone who hasn’t seen 21 in well over that many years. They can be 70 years old and technically you’re breaking the law if you serve them alcohol.

It can be awkward telling a parent that you can’t serve their 20 year old alcohol even with their permission. What you can do is just not see them sharing their drink but what you shouldn’t do is give them an empty glass and a wink. If your table has wine glasses preset, I suppose that you could simply not pick up the empty glasses and you could “lose count” of how many people are drinking. If it’s a law enforcement sting, you could still be cited, but you might have a defense in court if you insisted that you didn’t see anything. It can also be awkward if you card someone but don’t card someone who still looks fairly young but who is obviously 30 (especially if it’s a lady). I suggest that you card them as well. If you don’t, sometimes you’ll get a mock “What about me”? You can tell that they’re a little disappointed that you didn’t card them. One way that you can take the sting out of carding people with their parents is to card the mom as well.

Speaking of law enforcement stings, in my region, the cops have people who look well over 21 that that they send in to see if they get carded. Some 19 year olds have full beards and racks the size of the Inquisition these days (must be all of the hormones in milk). So, I suggest that you err on the side of caution when deciding whether or not to serve someone alcohol. And, don’t forget, just because someone is in the military doesn’t mean that they are necessarily 21. Plus, anyone can get a military haircut, right?

Believe it or not, a fake ID is no defense for serving an underage person alcohol. We’re supposed to be able to detect them, even if they are virtually undetectable. It’s amazing what you can get on the internet. I’m not telling you that you need to take a course in fraudulent IDs, but you need to know that it’s no defense.

Just because you haven’t been stung doesn’t mean that you won’t be. If a guest sees someone serving someone that they think is underage, even if they aren’t, they can call law enforcement, which will probably then send someone in, sort of like the health department. they might even describe you as the potential culprit.

If you are convicted of serving underage patrons, you lose your ability to ever wait tables or tend bar (in most locales). So it’s something worth thinking about.

Just to show that this isn’t theoretical, this from the Nashville area, courtesy of The Hendersonville Star News:

10 servers cited for serving alcohol to underage customers

Of Hendersonville police’s latest roundup of establishments that served alcohol to the underage patrons, nearly half were businesses located in the Streets of Indian Lake.

Last week, Hendersonville police, with assistance by the Sumner County Anti-Drug Coalition, investigated 34 restaurants that sell beer or alcohol for compliance in prohibiting sale of alcohol to underage customers.

Of the 34 investigated, 10 were found to have allegedly sold beer to minors, including four businesses at the Streets of Indian Lake.

Buffalo Wild Wings, 310 Indian Lake Boulevard; Country Hills Golf Course, 1501 Saundersville Road; The Italian Grill and Café, 82 New Shackle Island Road; Mimi’s Café, 298 Indian Lake Boulevard; Qdoba Mexican Grill, 300 Indian Lake Boulevard; Ricardo’s Restaurant, 100 New Shackle Island Road; Salsarita’s Cantina, 1050 Glenbrook Way; September’s, 300 Indian Lake Boulevard; Steamboat Bill’s, 248 Sanders Ferry Road and Yokohama’s Restaurant, 201 Iris Drive.

All of the alleged servers found to be in violation were cited into city court where they are scheduled to appear on April 8.

As you can see, law enforcement tends to hit a bunch of places at once. Stay on your guard, especially if you hear of other restaurants getting stung.