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National Restaurant Association - Meet the restaurant advocate

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Meet the restaurant advocate

SamCalagioneTasting-Room.jpgSam Calagione has been promoting responsible alcohol service and consumption since opening Dogfish Head Brewing & Eats 18 years ago in Rehoboth Beach, Del. Since then, he has worked with other restaurants, regulatory and law enforcement entities, distributors and the Delaware Restaurant Association to train staff and educate the public.

Critical training: Every single person in our original restaurant, our tasting room and three Dogfish Head Ale restaurants receive state-mandated responsible alcohol service training.  We work closely with the Delaware Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and our waiters, bartenders, tasting-room servers and tour guides are ServSafe Alcohol-certified.  ServSafe Alcohol sends a message to the community that Dogfish Head takes responsible consumption seriously.

Menu complement: Responsible enjoyment of flavorful alcohol is a big part of the dining-out experience. When we opened the brewery, we intentionally put it inside a restaurant. We wanted to make beer part of the menu and focus on interesting flavors and food compatibility.  At our tasting room, which more than 3,000 people visit each week, we recently opened a food truck so guests weren’t drinking on an empty stomach.

Leading by example: We want to make sure we’re on the forefront of responsible alcohol service. We need to be leaders in showing that responsibility, so we work with a lot of restaurants and organizations. In March, we shut down our restaurant in to allow the Delaware Restaurant Association and state to conduct ServSafe Alcohol training for more than 230 servers and bartenders from 60 restaurants.

Community effort: We also work with the Hero Campaign for Designated Drivers to take a stand on responsible alcohol service. We created a customized training program for the summer beach season, “Creating Delaware Beach Heroes through Responsible Alcohol Service.” We invited state agencies, police departments and distributors, as well as restaurants. It was the first time all the constituents worked together to address responsible consumption. Our next training event, at the University of Delaware, will have a Safe Halloween theme.

Proactive stance: This type of training, with the police and town leadership is what’s necessary to encourage designated drivers and responsible consumption.  Overly restrictive legislation damages the success of the restaurant community. We as a company embraced .08 as legal alcohol limit. But a .05 limit takes away the rights of responsible adults to enjoy a glass of wine or pint of beer with a meal. Legislation should target those people with more than .08 percent blood alcohol content -- repeat, chronic DUIs.

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