Opening a new restaurant or bar is usually a harried experience. Hiring new employees, dealing with contractors and health inspectors, marketing the business, and buying food and alcohol all provide more stress than the normal operation of running the business. Often a new liquor licensee does not get temporary authority to operate until the same day as the grand opening. A tsunami of paperwork typically follows the opening of a new establishment. In that stack of papers is a notice from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (“LCB”) informing the new licensee that the LCB approved manager of a new establishment must be “RAMP” certified within 180 days of the authority being issued. This notice often gets put into a file to be dealt with at a later date (after all, the due date is six months away). Six months pass and suddenly an officer from the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Code Enforcement shows up and asks to see the RAMP certification. Far too often the licensee has let that obligation slip through the cracks and that license receives its first citation.
An Act passed in 2001 established the Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP), a statewide certification program that provided incentives for participating licensees. The Act was amended in 2011 and now requires all LCB approved managers to complete this training component within 180 days of approval unless that manager was successfully certified as a manager within the previous two years. Additionally, at least fifty percent of the licensee’s alcohol service staff must be RAMP trained and certified. If any of these parties are not certified the license is subject to a citation.
The LCB offers training for owners and managers in an online environment or in weekly classroom training sessions held at locations throughout the Commonwealth. Additionally; there are several approved private companies that offer trainings and certifications. Often these independent trainers are willing to provide appropriate training on licensed premises at times convenient for the business owner. Licensees also must conduct a new employee orientation within 30 days of the employee’s hiring and maintain records of the same. The owner, manager or other designated instructor must conduct this orientation.
RAMP training includes: how and when to verify age; how to identify when someone becomes intoxicated; when to cease service to that patron; what to do if a disturbance breaks out; and general responsibilities of a server.
Only a few years ago RAMP certifications were voluntary, however the changes making RAMP training a requirement have caught many licensees off guard. The penalty for not being RAMP certified is an important one and should be taken seriously by the licensee. Any licensee issued a citation should contact an attorney promptly.
– J. Ken Butera