The awkward situation of cutting someone off is inevitable in the hospitality industry. For one reason or another, you may need to say "no" to a guest which is never easy. These seasoned industry experts share their best advice on how to deliver the message in a tactful way.
1

"Directly, but without adversarial confrontation. The line I use is, "I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to serve you any more alcohol this evening.' ”

- Joshua Jenkins, General Manager at Lou Bird’s in Philadelphia
2

“Food first. Water and with a smile - apologize politely.”

- Paul Peterson, Sommelier at Lonesome Dove in Austin
3

“Politely offer a glass of water and ask if they are driving home. I offer to call a cab and bring their check.”

- Daniel Toral, Wine Director at 50 Eggs in Miami
4

“Very politely by expressing to them that this is not a personal decision, but rather one that is being made to release the establishment of any liability that may occur from over serving.”

- Sean Dawson, Head Sommelier at Bouchon in Yountville
5

“This somehow always falls on me! Actually in Jeff's book, "Front of the House" there's a passage about just that, where he calls me the "The Jerk Whisperer" for this reason… The foundation of my approach is always empathy. Very few people intend to get drunk and make a scene. And likely a whole lot more of us have been in a similar position than we care to admit. I'm always mindful that the decision to cut someone off is better delivered when outside forces are at play - the law, their health, etc, rather than morality. It never goes well if the guest perceives a righteous element from the person delivering the information. To someone without all their faculties, it's a fine line between perceiving "Hey we care about you and want to make sure you know you're welcome back tomorrow, but we're just not allowed to serve you anymore and let's get you home safely" and "I'm the manager and you're drunk and it's wrong and you need to leave! Having a confrontation over it isn't going to help you or the intoxicated patron, but equally importantly it won't help your staff or the rest of the guests in the restaurant either.”

- Steve Wildy, Beverage Director, Sommelier at Vetri Family in Philadelphia