This is a reminder to help you achieve full, timely compliance with the Municipal Code of Chicago; three new laws go into effect on July 1st and August 1st. 

Monday, August 08, 2016 5:29:00 AM
                                           Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection 
                                                                             City of Chicago 
                                                                                                                   August 1, 2016
Dear Retailer,
This is a reminder to help you achieve full, timely compliance with the Municipal Code of Chicago; three new laws go into effect on July 1st and August 1st.
Tobacco 21:
Beginning July 1, 2016, the sale of tobacco products and accessories to people under age 21 will be prohibited.  Retail employees age 18 and older may still engage in selling tobacco products. It is now illegal to sell tobacco products to those under age 21.
Additionally, you may be required to post a new warning sign. In stores that have a Retail Tobacco License, a new warning sign reflecting the new age of 21 must be posted by July 1, 2016. Please remember that as the retailer, it is now illegal to sell tobacco products to those under 21. You are responsible for any violations committed by your employees, staff, or agents. You can get a copy of this warning sign on the Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection website on the tobacco regulations webpage.
Minimum Wage Increase:
Effective July 1st the new hourly minimum wage goes up to $10.50 per hour. Tipped minimum wage workers will also see a raise as their per hour wage increases to $5.95.  
The Mayor's 2014 ordinance phases in annual increases every July 1st.  The hourly wage will increase to $11 in 2017, $12 in 2018 and $13 by 2019. The ordinance affects employers operating within the city and employees who work at least two hours in the city.  It does not cover businesses with four or less employees, not counting the employer's parents, spouse, children or other members of the employer's immediate family.
Plastic Bag Ban:
The second phase of the City of Chicago's Plastic Bag Ban begins August 1, 2016. Smaller chain and franchise retailers with floor space less than 10,000 square feet will be required to come into compliance as larger stores were required last year. The ordinance does not apply to take-out or dine-in restaurants.
Under the ordinance stores can provide customers plastic bags if they are reusable, made of recyclable paper or commercially compostable plastic bags.
As part of the City's coordinated effort to build awareness about these changes, the Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection will host a workshop regarding the new laws on Wednesday, August 10,2016 at City Hall Room 805 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Please stay tuned for more information that will be posted online.

Maria Guerra Lapacek
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Illinois: Bill targets bootlegging and illegal wine shipping 

Sunday, August 07, 2016 9:53:00 AM

Source: Chicago Tribune

Greg Trotter

August 1, 2016


Beware, ye bootleggers and illicit e-commerce shippers of booze into Illinois - the state law is about to get tougher.


Senate Bill 2989, sponsored by state Sen. James Clayborne, D-East Saint Louis, seeks to toughen oversight and enforcement of transportation of alcohol into Illinois. The bill is awaiting Gov. Bruce Rauner's signature after passing through the state House and Senate. Backed by the powerful and long-established alcohol wholesalers lobby, the legislation represents the alcohol industry's attempt to protect the so-called three-tier system against unlicensed wine shippers sending booze to Illinois customers and merchants illegally bringing alcohol across state borders without paying taxes.


"Licensed wineries that have the ability to ship into the market - they're following the law. Why is another winery able to not license themselves and ship in? It's really about making sure we're able to cover the laws that are in place and making sure everyone's following the rules properly," said Danny Wirtz, vice chair of Breakthru Beverage Group, the alcohol distributor company formed in January when Wirtz Beverage Group merged with New York-based Charmer Sunbelt.


When you buy a six-pack or a bottle of wine or tequila at a store in Illinois, you're participating in the three-tier system in its most traditional format. A wholesaler sold that alcohol to the store after buying it from the manufacturer.


But of course, consumers have more options these days. You could use an app to order your vino from one of Chicago's several alcohol delivery services, like Drizly or Instacart, which partner with retailers. Or you could buy your booze online, from out of state, via websites likes eBay Wine and Amazon. Or, if really determined, you could drive to Wisconsin and bring back a twelver of New Glarus Spotted Cow, a popular beer not sold in Illinois.


This bill doesn't limit any of those options, but it does impose tougher penalties on the "bad actors" of e-commerce and those who illegally transport large quantities of alcohol across state lines with plans of reselling, said Jeremy Kruidenier, vice executive director of the Wine and Spirits Distributors of Illinois, a trade group funded by the state's two largest wholesalers, Breakthru and Southern Wine & Spirits.

It's really about making sure we're able to cover the laws that are in place and making sure everyone's following the rules properly. - Danny Wirtz, vice chair of Breakthru Beverage Group


Any person transporting into Illinois 108 liters or more of wine, 45 liters or more of spirits, or 118 liters or more of beer would face a felony charge - instead of a fine and business offense - if the bill is signed into law. Likewise, any nonlicensed wine shipper that's already received a cease-and-desist letter from regulators would also face felony charges.


Last year, Wine and Spirits Distributors of Illinois conducted its own investigation that showed hundreds of cases of wine and liquor entering Illinois illegally. At the time, the trade group calculated that the state had lost $20 million to $30 million in tax dollars over a single year.


The legislation also increases the licensing fees across the board for manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, and establishes more of an audit process "to track how product is moving into Illinois," Kruidenier said.


"Frankly, I don't think there's been enough enforcement," Kruidenier said.


Kruidenier emphasized the association wasn't opposed to e-commerce and declined to name businesses that haven't been adhering to existing state law. Revenue from the increase in licensing fees is intended to help boost enforcement and will be split between the Illinois Liquor Control Commission and the state's general fund, he said.

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One industry could get a $100 billion boost from the rise of driverless cars and car-sharing 

Sunday, August 07, 2016 9:43:00 AM


Rachel Butt

August 1, 2016

Imagine not having to say no to a drink anymore because you have to drive home.

That would be great for liquor sales, which have been hit hard by drunk-driving laws in countries like China and Scotland, according to a research note by Morgan Stanley's Adam Jonas and his team.

Drinking and driving should, of course, always be mutually exclusive, but the rise of car-sharing services and the development of driverless cars could shake things up.

Uber, for one, claimed that it has prevented about 1,800 drunk-driving crashes since its launch in California in July 2012, according to a blog post last January. But the evidence is mixed: A study by researchers at the University of Southern California and Oxford University found no effect from Uber on crash rates.

Regardless, the driverless-car and alcohol industries could benefit each other significantly.

Here is Morgan Stanley:

"Shared and autonomous vehicle technology help address the mutual exclusivity of drinking and driving in a way that can significantly enhance the growth rate of the alcohol market and on-trade sales at restaurants. The total addressable market (TAM) of the global alcohol market is ~$1.5tn today (1.14tn drinks x $1.33/drink). As our base case, we believe greater prevalence of shared mobility (i.e. ride-sharing) in the next 10 years can add 80 bps to the annual growth rate of the alcohol market (currently ~2.2%). This assumes that the joint population of drivers and those who drink consume 1 extra alcoholic beverage per week on average. In reality, this is highly dependent on the timing and telemetry of shared models. Would be drivers who reside in cities where shared mobility is well penetrated are likely to consume more than 1 additional drink per week, in our view. Beyond 2025, we believe autonomous technology can unlock an even greater TAM opportunity."

To make their case, the analysts calculated current global alcohol consumption and its monetary value, and compared that with estimated figures under the impact of car-sharing and driverless cars. They found that the booze market could get an extra $98 billion:

In the base case, where the analysts assume that would-be drivers who drink will have one more drink per week by 2025, the annual alcohol-consumption growth rate could increase by 0.8 percentage points relative to the baseline. In the bull case, the 10-year compounded annual growth rate for alcohol consumption could increase by 1.88 points.

Brands that sell premium beer and liquor will benefit the most from these incremental drinks, according to the note, citing examples such as Corona's parent company, Constellation Brands, British whiskey distiller Diageo, and Chinese state-owned company Kweichow Moutai.

We already saw how Americans are increasingly trading up to more expensive alcohol, a trend that Constellation CEO Rob Sands believes will continue.


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Ruby Tuesday shutters 11 restaurants in Illinois 

Thursday, August 04, 2016 9:07:00 AM


Jonathan Maze

Jul 28, 2016


Chain's largest franchise shuts down operations, closes restaurants


Ruby Tuesday's largest franchisee shuttered all 11 of its restaurants abruptly this week, wiping out in one move all of the chain's locations in Illinois, according to local reports.


The restaurants were closed on Wednesday morning with simple signs on the front door. Restaurant employees were given little notice of the closures, according to reports.


The company that owns the Illinois locations is RT Midwest Holdings. RT filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and sold real estate in a sale-leaseback deal, according to bankruptcy court records. It emerged from bankruptcy a year later.


A statement from Ruby Tuesday said the casual-dining concept "went to great lengths" to help the operator stay open.


"Our Illinois Ruby Tuesday restaurants were owned and operated by an independent franchisee," the company said. "As the franchisor of this concept, we went to great lengths in assisting the franchisee to remain open, but he has made the decision to close his restaurants. We appreciate the patronage of the many residents and guests that have dined at the Illinois Ruby Tuesday restaurants over the years, along with the dedicated employees of the franchisee, and will evaluate opportunities to return to the market in the future."


Ruby Tuesday has struggled to generate positive sales for years, and the Maryville, Tenn.-based chain has simultaneously seen its unit count decline. The number of Ruby Tuesday restaurants has fallen from 705 units to 682 locations over the past two years. But most of those closures have been of company-owned units. The franchisor operated 646 of 682 locations as of May, according to Nation's Restaurant News' Top 100 data.


Systemwide sales, meanwhile, have fallen to $1.15 billion, from $1.22 billion over the same timeframe.


Ruby Tuesday stock is down 1 percent in Thursday morning trading, and is down 26 percent year to date.

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Mr. Boston's bartending guide re-launched online by the Sazerac Company 

Thursday, August 04, 2016 9:03:00 AM

Source: The Times-Picayune

Todd A. Price

July 25th


Mr. Boston used to be the barkeep's best friend. The unmistakable, narrow, cherry-red books were once found behind every bar. The first edition of "Mr. Boston Official Bartender's Guide" was published in 1935, just as America was again able to properly quench its thirst after Prohibition. More than 65 editions would be published.


Around the time that American bartenders became "mixologists" and cocktails got complicated, Mr. Boston fell from favor.


A few years back, the New Orleans-based Sazerac Co. bought Mr. Boston, which also sells a line of cordials and spirits. Last Thursday (July 21) Sazerac relaunched the Mr. Boston guide as a free, web-only tool.


Sazerac plans to make Mr. Boston bigger than ever.


The website offers more than 10,000 cocktail recipes from the post-Prohibition era.


It took the Sazerac Co. five years to get out of the Mr. Boston publishing contract. While they waited, they found copies of all but 17 editions of the Mr. Boston guide and entered the 10,539 cocktail recipes into a database.


"We've been restoring it like you would a Van Gogh," said Mark Brown, president and CEO of Sazerac.


Now, you can search every one of those recipes at When there is more than one recipe, the site lets you see each version to learn how the cocktail changed over time.


Recipes can be searched by name or main ingredient. A "discovery" page lets you browse by style, era, occasion, city of origin and even color. Create an account, and you can review the recipes and build a personal collection of your favorites.


The site also has a guide to techniques and glassware, a glossary of ingredients and historical information.


The Mr. Boston guide is a record of how America drank for 80 years. And the Sazerac company plans to keep the guide alive for at least another 80 years.


Although they likely won't print another guide, Sazerac has big plans for Mr. Boston. First, they want to find the remaining 17 editions and enter those recipes. They will create videos demonstrating cocktails and techniques. They plan to commission articles on cocktails. And users will be able to add new drinks, which will be considered for inclusion in the guide.


Outside the virtual world, Sazerac is pondering partnerships with bartending schools, awards for bartenders and possibly a public, physical headquarters for Mr. Boston.


To check out the online Mr. Boston guide, visit

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New Illinois law lets universities, community colleges allow alcohol sales 

Thursday, August 04, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Dan Petrella Lee Springfield Bureau Chief

July 19, 2016


SPRINGFIELD — The boards of trustees of Illinois’ public universities and community colleges can now decide whether to allow alcohol sales at campus events under a measure Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law late last week.

A few state universities already had that ability under previous law, but the option is now available to all public institutions of higher learning. The law applies only to public events that university officials determine are not “student-related activities,” and it requires each board of trustees to develop its own policy within six months.

Southern Illinois University is one of the most likely candidates to take advantage of the change. SIU pushed a separate bill, which was also approved in the General Assembly this spring, that would specifically give its board of trustees permission to allow alcohol sales.

John Charles, executive director for governmental and public affairs, said the school’s bill was drafted that way because other universities didn’t express interest in the idea when SIU approached them.

Charles said the idea of allowing alcohol sales at football and basketball games and other events arose during the state’s historically long budget impasse.

“As we were entering into the fourth or fifth month of not having a budget last year, we talked to different lawmakers and staff, and they certainly suggested that we find creative ways to help increase revenue around campus,” he said. “And this was one of them.”

SIU President Randy Dunn told trustees at their meeting last week at the SIU School of Medicine in Springfield that it’s unlikely alcohol sales will begin during the upcoming football season because the board still needs to develop its policy.

“I think we’re probably going to be very hard-pressed to get that done for fall of ’16,” Dunn said.

Other universities don’t appear poised to quickly follow SIU’s lead on alcohol sales.

Jay Groves, Illinois State University chief of staff, said trustees haven’t taken up the issue, and it’s not on the agenda for their Friday meeting.

Eastern Illinois University spokeswoman Vicki Woodard wrote in an email, “While Eastern welcomes having the discretion to exercise such an option if we ever felt so inclined, we have no plans or desire to do so at this time.

"Charles said SIU still hopes Rauner signs its bill because the legislation also includes a provision that would allow underage students in the school’s fermentation science program to taste but not consume the beverages they make.

Anita Bedell, executive director of Illinois Church Action on Alcohol & Addiction Problems, said allowing alcohol sales at campus events is a move in the wrong direction.

“There’s enough problems with alcohol on college campuses,” Bedell said. “The colleges have worked very hard to try to prevent problems. … This is not a good way to get money when the students or the community are harmed.”

Rauner also signed a bill into law Friday that gives public library boards the option of allowing alcohol sales at educational, cultural or fundraising events.

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Mixing alcohol with energy drinks may make you want to drink even more 

Thursday, August 04, 2016 8:51:00 AM

    Cocktails such as Jägerbombs are hugely popular among younger drinks

    Mixing energy drinks and alcohol together may increase drinking levels

    Caffeine hides the effects of alcohol and can lead to riskier behaviours

    Bomb drinks can be as high as 5:1 in energy drink to alcohol ratio


By Colin Fernandez, Science Correspondent For The Daily Mail

18 July 2016

Mixing energy drinks with alcohol leads to revellers wanting to consume even more booze, scientists claim.

Cocktails such as Jägerbombs - Red Bull mixed with Jägermeister liqueur - have become a huge craze among younger drinkers.

But mixing caffeinated drinks and alcohol together may lead to an increase in binge drinking.

This is because the caffeine makes the drinker crave even more booze, researchers warned.

Drinking vodka mixed with soft drinks - rather than caffeine - did not have the same effect, the study found.

Previous research has warned caffeine masks the intoxicating effects of alcohol - and can lead to riskier behaviours as people don't realise how drunk they are.

In the new study, researchers at Northern Kentucky University gave 26 adult social drinkers - 13 men and 13 women - one of six possible drinks over six sessions.

These were:

* Vodka mixed with a decaffeinated soft drink

* Vodka and a medium energy drink,

* Vodka and a large energy drink

* A decaffeinated soft drink

* A medium energy drink and a large energy drink.

After each session the drinkers were asked to rate their desire for alcohol and breathalysed.

Results showed drinking alcohol led to an increased desire for more booze - but drinking a mixer made participants crave it even more.

The authors said the study provides evidence that mixing the two together leads to a greater desire for more booze - as opposed to drinking the same amount of alcohol on its own.

They said their results 'are consistent with animal studies showing that caffeine increases the rewarding and reinforcing properties of alcohol'.

Pre-mixed drinks have been banned in the US, but the authors write that 'the popularity of combining energy drinks with alcohol has continued to increase'.

Mixed drinks may contain 2:1 or 3:1 ratios of energy drink compared to alcohol.

But the authors warned the ratio in drinks such as Jägerbombs can be as high as 5:1.

Previous research found caffeine masks the intoxicating effects of alcohol - and can lead to riskier behaviours as people often don't realise how drunk they are

A Brazilian study in 2006 found the use of energy drinks might make people abuse alcohol when its effects are masked by caffeine.

Professor Roseli Boergnen de Lacerda, who conducted the study, warned of a higher risk of car accidents due to drinking mixers 'because people who drank energy drinks with alcohol felt less intoxicated than they were'.

Jägermeister has become hugely popular in recent years - despite being closely associated with the Nazi Party after it was launched in 1934 - and later known in some circles as Goering-Schnapps.


The drink's manufacturer, Curt Mast, was close friends with Hermann Goering, who as well as being head of the Luftwaffe and Hitler's number two, was official huntmaster, or 'Reichsjägermeister', of the Nazi regime. 

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Craft distilleries law may change  

Friday, July 15, 2016 10:59:00 AM

Bill on governor's desk would increase the limit from 35,000 to 100,000 gallons of spirits a year

By Greg TrotterChicago Tribune

Soon, makers of craft spirits in Illinois might be able to produce significantly more booze with a single state license, but not all craft distillers are raising a glass to honor the occasion. Senate Bill 2797, passed by both the House and the Senate last month but not yet sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner, would allow those licensed as craft distillers in Illinois to make up to 100,000 gallons of spirits a year, up from the 35,000 gallons a year per license that's currently allowed. But it also would close a loophole in the existing law that doesn't explicitly prohibit distilleries from holding multiple licenses at different locations as a way to produce more spirits.

This bill — sponsored by state Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago — would cap total production at a threshold that's still well beyond what many Illinois craft distillers are making. The increase would directly benefit the Ravenswood-based Koval Distillery, one of the state's largest craft distillers, which is looking for a larger facility in Chicago to consolidate and grow its operations.

But it would “cramp” the business plans for Few Spirits in Evanston, a Koval competitor that's currently producing about 70,000 gallons under two craft licenses, said Paul Hletko, Few Spirits founder.

“I think it's going to stink when one of the largest craft distillers in Illinois has to close its doors to the public,” said Hletko, referring to his own business.

Hletko's said the bill's cap on total gallonage likely would force him to eschew the craft license in favor of a noncraft distiller's license, which doesn't permit tasting rooms or tours. Ultimately, the growth of the business is what's most important, Hletko said.

Sonat Birnecker Hart, Koval president, also is trying to grow her business, which is why she advocated for the production increase. Like Few, Koval makes about 70,000 gallons a year under two craft licenses, she said. But Hart is hoping to bring those operations under one roof, while retaining a tasting room to attract tourists, and wanted her investment to be protected by law.

Hart maintains that other distilleries, and not just her own, will eventually benefit from the increase.

“This is a fast-growing industry. A distillery can grow very fast in a short amount of time. ... This is a significant win for all the (craft) distilleries in Illinois,” Hart said.

In Illinois, there are 28 craft distiller licenses currently issued, said Terry Horstman, spokesman for the state Department of Revenue. The tax revenue generated from these businesses is still relatively small but is growing quickly. In 2011, craft distillers generated about $7,420 in state sales taxes and liquor revenue taxes, according to state data. By last year, that number had grown to almost $154,400.

Those running these businesses are also quick to point out that, like craft breweries, distilleries also produce jobs and tourism dollars.

Nationally, there are 1,280 producers of craft spirits, the most since Prohibition, according to a study conducted by the American Craft Spirits Association, International Wine and Spirits Research and import company Park Street.

From 2011 to 2015, launches of spirits marketed as “craft” increased 265 percent globally, a craze driven by the U.S. market and, in particular, millennial consumers, according to a recent report from market research firm Mintel.

But what does it even mean to be a craft distiller? Depends on whom you ask and where you do business. In contrast to the craft beer industry, which has one generally agreed-upon definition of what it means to be a craft brewer, the definition of craft distilling is more fluid, varying state by state depending on the regulations.

“Craft” has become a meaningless term, said Brenton Engel, owner of Letherbee Distillers, which is based in the Ravenswood industrial corridor.

But Engel nonetheless had strong opinions on what craft isn't.

“I think 100,000 gallons (a year) is an absurd amount to produce and still call yourself a craft distiller,” said Engel, whose distillery produces about 7,000 gallons a year.

Engel noted that the proposed increase to production in Illinois is happening while the American Craft Spirits Association is lobbying for the federal excise tax on distilleries to be lowered for the first 100,000 gallons produced and bottled each year. Engel called that lobbying effort “greedy” and “distasteful.”

Hletko, who's also president of the board of directors for the national craft spirits group, said it's all about establishing “parity” with wine and beer, which are taxed at lower rates.

The Illinois Craft Distillers Association, a fledgling trade group with 22 members created in 2013, had hoped to secure state legislative victories that would more directly help the smaller distilleries, said Matthew Blaum, president of the board of directors for the association.

In a first-time lobbying effort, the group pushed two separate bills this session. Both bills sought to raise the amount of product that can be sold on-site at distilleries and permit distillers to sell their spirits at events like farmers markets, among other provisions.

But those proposals ran into a “buzz saw” of opposition from the more established wholesalers' lobbying groups, Blaum said.

So the craft distillers group instead merged its support with the Steans bill, which does establish tasting permits for distilleries to give samples at farmers markets and other events.

“The biggest thing we accomplished was just being heard and recognized for the first time,” said Blaum, co-founder of Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. in Galena.

Under the so-called three-tier system for alcohol in Illinois, each tier — manufacturers, distributors and retailers — maintains its independence. Manufacturers sell to distributors, who sell to retailers, who sell to consumers.

Changing liquor laws often requires reaching compromise with the Wine and Spirits Distributors of Illinois, a powerful, long-standing trade association funded by the two largest wholesalers in the state — the Wirtz family's Breakthru Beverage and Southern Wine & Spirits.

Suffice to say that self-distribution for small distilleries, which is also on the wish list for the Illinois Craft Distillers Association, will be an uphill battle.

Karin Matura, executive director of Wine and Spirits Distributors of Illinois, said her organization's excited about the growth in craft distilleries — and willing to review and change antiquated laws as needed — so long as that growth includes working with wholesalers to distribute product. Matura said her association supported Steans' bill because it did just that.

“The three-tier system works and it allows for craft distilleries to grow,” Matura said.

Noelle DiPrizio, co-founder of Chicago Distilling Co., had her first taste of how Springfield works, which she described as “eye-opening.”

In addition to her job as vice president at the distillery and raising two small children, DiPrizio served as the de facto lobbyist for the craft distillers group this legislative session.

“What I learned is things can change in a matter of seconds down there (in Springfield),” she said.

DiPrizio said she's excited about the proposed change in law, which she believes will eventually benefit more distilleries than just Koval.

And with one legislative session under her belt, she's optimistic about future changes to state law that will benefit smaller distilleries. Next time around, though, the craft distillers group hopes to hire a full-time lobbyist.

“The growth of craft distilleries (in Illinois) has been exponential,” DiPrizio said. “We have an organization now. We have needs.”

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Businesses Serving Alcohol In Several Illinois Counties Must Complete New Server, Seller Training  

Thursday, July 14, 2016 11:54:00 AM

By Katie Finlon Jun 23, 2016

Restaurants within a few northern Illinois counties will have to complete a new alcohol training program by July 1.

That deadline is mandated by the state in a law that was created about a year ago. It says businesses that sell alcohol in counties with more than 200-thousand residents must complete Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training – or BASSET – by the beginning of next month.

That includes Winnebago, McHenry, Kane, DuPage and Will counties. Champaign, Lake, Madison and St. Clair counties are also on the list.

Chris Weinbrenner – a BASSET instructor in DuPage County – says the training is meant to teach employees how to not overserve and to protect patrons, surrounding residents and businesses.

“Essentially, when it comes to civil or criminal lawsuits, anybody can be named a party as part of liability because of negligence of not making reasonable efforts to be a responsible server or seller,” Weinbrenner said.

Weinbrenner says the possible consequences for businesses whose employees do not complete BASSET training are fines and losing liquor licenses. He says there is also an insurance incentive for those businesses whose entire staff is BASSET certified.

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Experts Say Nightclubs Need More Security in Wake of Orlando Shooting 

Monday, July 11, 2016 11:17:00 AM

Crowded clubs and bars can make attractive targets for terrorists, law-enforcement officials say

Source: WSJ

By Jim Carlton and Jon Kamp

June 13, 2016

The attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., highlights what law-enforcement officials call security lapses at many of the nation's clubs and entertainment venues.

With crowded dance floors and often minimal security, nightclubs make attractive targets for terrorists, experts said. And unlike their European counterparts, U.S. nightclubs have had little experience with terror-inspired violence and have been more concerned about unruly drunks or gang brawls.

Authorities say Omar S. Mateen exchanged gunfire outside the Pulse nightclub early Sunday with an off-duty police officer working for the bar, then continued shooting inside, leaving 49 dead victims. The owners of Pulse referred inquiries to a public-relations firm, which didn't return calls.

J.C. Diaz, executive director of the Nightlife Association, a trade group for the nation's 50,000 clubs and bars, said security varies widely, ranging from a club in Atlanta that is patrolled by a guard toting a semiautomatic rifle to ones that simply have a doorman.

But even with few resources, he said, clubs can better prepare for an attack by teaching bartenders and other staff to fight back with beer bottles, fire extinguishers or anything else they can grab. The key, he said, is to confront a shooter rather than wait to be possibly shot.

"What it comes down to is doing something versus doing nothing," Mr. Diaz said.

Islamic State-backed attacks on bars and entertainment venues in Paris last November, which left 130 dead, should have been a wake-up call to managers in the U.S. that similar attacks were headed here, said Robert C. Smith, president and chief executive officer of Nightclub Security Consultants, a San Diego-based provider of bouncer training.

"If I want to be an active shooter and I want to make a name for myself, I am going to go to a club that is unprepared," Mr. Smith said.

Clubs can also serve as symbols of Western lifestyles and mores. Pulse, the location of Sunday's massacre, catered mostly to the gay community; the shooter's father has said he was angered by gay men expressing affection in public.

Only California requires club security workers to undergo terrorism training, and even there it is only two hours' worth. Security consultants say the best defense starts at the door, where doormen and other security should be trained to intercept people who seem bent on doing harm.

"There will be a different look in the eyes-troublemakers who are just angry, or someone who will have the intense, determined look," said Brian Allen, director of Gilbert, Ariz.-based International Security Training LLC.

Some venues, like Echostage in Washington, D.C., have extensive front-door security. In addition to doormen, who frisk and wave metal-detector wands, the large club employs off-duty police officers to stay in front with uniforms and marked vehicles, said Corey Primus, urban marketing coordinator for an owner of the establishment. "I'm not going to say it couldn't happen, but the likelihood of that happening is a lot less," Mr. Primus said.

Meanwhile, mosques around the country, already on high alert for retaliation since the San Bernardino, Calif., terror attack, are strengthening security as the community is in the midst of the Ramadan holiday.

Nezar Hamze, regional operations director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Florida, sent an "action alert" to mosques in the state Sunday advising precautions including keeping the lights on, reaching out to law enforcement and stationing a door greeter who can call 911 if needed.

"No walking alone, walk in groups," his alert memo says.

Mr. Hamze,  who is also a deputy sheriff in Broward County, Fla., said he has been roaming the state teaching security at mosques since last September.

He said the Muslim community is routinely targeted by "vigilantes" or violent extremists after international or domestic terror attacks.

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