5 ways how waiters steal in restaurants or bars

5 ways how waiters steal in restaurants or bars

Theft among restaurant employees is our reality. It is a part of restaurant daily routine, but we rarely talk or read about it in the media. So it is a big chance that the employee you just hired was dismissed from the previous restaurant because of stealing. A sensitivity of this information and bad publicity are reasons for keeping this information as secrets.

There are more different ways how waiters steal your money.

Most employees are honest and will not steal, but one naughty waiter is enough, who will into stealing together with someone and relieve you of quite a bit of money. Knowing their methods will help catch them and prevent damages to your earnings, restaurant reputation and your team.

So get familiar with five ways how waiters steal:

  • Bringing drinks in the bar
  •  Pouring water into drinks
  • Making drinks shorter
  • Using the same check multiple times
  • Taking coffee directly out of the grinder

Bringing drinks in the bar

After serving and charging for a drink but not entering it into the system, a bartender can be in a position to bring in the same drink only bought from a nearby store. In that way, inventory is not disturbed, and the money is pocketed.
This is done when the rest of the team hasn’t arrived yet, several hours before inventory control, if it was not counted the previous evening. In this case, security guard needs to be watched closely as well since he/she is often involved. A team involved in this scheme can include the bartender, waiter and the night guard.

Pouring water into drinks

Watering down drinks is one of the more frequent methods of theft in restaurants and bars. The main player is the bartender who can not bring drinks in, but is able to do the following: simply pour water into bottles that he/she previously served drinks from, charged them but did not enter them into the system, thus making up for the amount served and pocketing the cash.
Those that are more daring, servers as well as some owners add sparkling water directly into the beverage dispenser at the bar and in that way keep a significant amount of money for themselves. This directly affects restaurant’s or bar’s reputation since the customer who gets a watered down drink will certainly not form a good opinion of the place.
The customer will blame the owner for not being honest and for showing disrespect. In the end, the customer is not obligated to pay for a watered down drink.
This way of stealing is very damaging and should not be tolerated.

Making drinks shorter

This method is related to previous two methods since the main players are again bartender and server. The method is simple: not a whole measurement of drink is poured in the glass when served. Usually, an additional cube of ice is added to increase the volume. In some cases, thieves call this “technical surplus” but this is clean theft and the customer is directly affected. There are cases when an already watered down drink is shortened and filled with ice so the customer can barely taste the drink they ordered.

Using the same check multiple times

This method involves a bartender-server team and when the kitchen is involved as well it means that you have lost control over your employees completely. Waiters separately or together ring up food and drinks and keep the check. They patiently wait for the next order that will be the same, and the rest is history. The customer is served; the order is paid for but has not gone through the system. Money is pocketed by all those involved. Thieves make up for spent ingredients by buying them, however in restaurants where inventory is not counted and operations are based on trust they don’t replace the goods at all.

Taking coffee directly out of the grinder

Coffee grinder usually has a built in dial, counting the number of shots used. Each time the handle is pulled counts as one coffee. The theft method is simple: bartender opens the grinder and takes the coffee directly out of it, without pulling the handle, serves the coffee usually without issuing a check or using the same check several times. In this case, only the owner is affected but the amount stolen can be significant in the course of one year. Multiply several coffees a day with the number of days in one year and you get a vacation you missed thanks to diligent employee thieves. This theft is difficult to prevent other than taping the lid of the grinder or putting a lock on it.

We realize there are a lot more ways in which employees can steal and harm your business. This article can be the first in a series of many.

We welcome any information you can share on ways employees steal in restaurants and bars. So write to us and reveal their methods!