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TEAM class aids W.Va. bartenders

January 22, 2001

TEAM class aids W.Va. bartenders



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Referred to as "free pour," some bartenders estimate how much alcohol they put in mixed drinks.

That means the amount of alcohol put into a drink might be more than a shot, said Dick Weller, training and education specialist for the state Alcohol Beverage Control Administration.

"The guy that's drinking that doesn't know. He thinks he's just had one drink," Weller said.

That is an important aspect to remember when learning how not to overserve patrons in a bar, said Weller, who is helping to direct a class for bartenders and others who serve liquor in local bars.

On Monday night, Weller and local bar owner Larry Luttrell were expecting to lead about 60 club owners and bartenders through the Training and Education on Alcohol Management course, or TEAM, at Gables Club in Ridgeway.

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Weller and Luttrell have been criss-crossing the state offering the class to people who serve alcohol. The four-hour class includes videotape presentations that show the proper way to deal with patrons who may have had too much to drink.

Besides the "free pour" issue, bartenders are also given tips on alcohol consumption. For example, when soft drinks are used to make drinks, it speeds up the effects of alcohol, Weller said.

The TEAM course is currently not required in West Virginia, but Weller wants the Legislature to require bar owners and bartenders to take the class.

In the meantime, Weller is promoting the advantages of taking the course. In some cases, successful completion of the course can mean lower liablity insurance premiums for bars, Weller said.

There is a lot of useful information bar owners need to know, Weller said. For example, if someone sues a bar over an alcohol-related accident, everyone should be aware that the bartender and the server can also be named in the suit, Weller said.

"A lot of people don't realize that. That's when it hits home," Weller said.

Luttrell, owner of Gables Club, provided refreshments and space for the class at his club Monday night. Luttrell was the first bar owner to start the designated driver program in the state in 1985 and estimates he has prevented about 6,000 intoxicated people from getting behind the wheel.

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