Robert Pomplun with Serving Alcohol Inc.Since 2007, Serving Alcohol Inc. has offered online responsible alcohol training for establishments and people in the hospitality industry. We created our alcohol training and certification courses to benefit bartenders, servers, managers, owners, and security staff across the nation. Serving Alcohol courses provide members of the alcohol service industry with knowledge on responsible alcohol service. That's because our number one goal is to ensure that servers across the United States are serving responsibly to instill safer communities and, above all, save lives.

Each of our team members has their own unique experience with the hospitality industry. We know what it's like out there. We know what it takes to create safe entertainment venues where educated employees and the serving of alcohol are key ingredients.

Our Team

Bob is our President and Founder of Serving Alcohol Inc. and its sister company, Loss Control Services Inc. With over 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Bob has conducted live training and acted as a consultant to business and legislature. Read more about Bob Pomplun and his positive effect on all that had benefited from his expertise.

When not working, Bob loves to spend time with family and catch up with other hospitality industry members.

Joe is our Chief Technology Officer

Industry Experience: When Joe was in college at the University of Michigan-Flint he was the Night Manager of the University Center which included a small bar. He remembers having to card everyone, no exceptions.

Expertise: He is responsible for the technology that delivers our courses.

If you see Joe at your establishment he would likely order:  A local brew.

Chris is our Chief Executive Officer. With over 20 years of experience, he is responsible for making major corporate decisions, managing the overall operations and resources of a company, acting as the main point of communication between the board of directors and corporate operations.

When not working Chris loves baking and trying new recipes.

Tony is our Vice President of Customer Solutions. With over 24 years of computer and networking experience, he's our go-to guy for resolving customer issues. He also been the driving force for critically resolving SEO issues and web development. Tony is one of the original founders of Serving Alcohol in 2007 and has been a critical part of shaping the company to this day.

When not working, Tony enjoys playing guitar professionally for over 30 years.

Jennie is our Vice President of Product Management. With over 20 years in learning and development, she is responsible for managing our products by identifying potential products; conducting market research; generating product requirements; determining specifications, production timetables, and time-integrated plans for product introduction; developing marketing strategies.

When not working Jennie loves to spend time with her family, craft, and enjoy nature.

Ed is a Junior Instructional Designer and Marketing Strategist. He is responsible for helping get training out to our customers and the information you need to know on our social media and blog.

When not working Ed loves the outdoors. From skateboarding to ski's he's determined to do or try it all.

Serving Alcohol Inc. would also like to acknowledge and thank our past employees and past and current contractors for helping us get this far.

Our History

Loss Control Services Inc. was founded in 1985, specializing in live training seminars in security and alcohol server training in Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Iowa.  Our founder, Bob, has personally taught close to 4000 live seminars and trained over 200,000 people throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa, South Dakota, and Wisconsin since 1985.

Robert_Pomplun_with_Serving_AlcoholIn 2007, Serving Alcohol Inc. was born, an online training service provider for bartenders across the United States. We took Bob's 35 plus years of experience in the hospitality industry and created responsible alcohol server training. With his experience and our ability to work with state commissions, we're sure to have you and your business covered. Our alcohol training and certification courses with Robert's guidance have benefited thousands of bartenders, servers, managers, owners, and security staff across the nation. Our alcohol certification courses will prepare you and your staff with knowledge as the most critical component of responsible alcohol service. We regularly add new states and are now in over half of the United States. As well as also offer training on Management and Mixology. Thru our Business Accounts, we offer a bulk discount to businesses (big and small) and a Business Dashboard for tracking progress and downloading certificates.

With the help of our partners, we've been able to extend our offerings and provide more value to your business:ILCC-Basset-News-FourthQuarter2019

Serving Alcohol is also proud to be associated with:

Bartending and Management Resources

Looking for more information? Here are our top picks to get you started:

The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Bartending License

Is Bartending a Good Job?

Bartender Career Infographic

Bartending 101

Why Bars Call Big Bob

Star Tribune Archives

A former bartender on a mission to make local nightlife safer is helping clubs cope with new liability threats.

By Tom Horgen
Staff Writer

Robert Pomplun with Serving Alcohol Inc

'Card me!" - It's a sleepy Saturday afternoon at the former Fahrenheit nightclub in downtown Minneapolis, and Robert Pomplun is trying to make an important point. He dwarfs the bouncers who have come to the darkened, empty club to take part in his training session on bar safety.  "Sir, may I have your valid ID?" one of them asks as part of the drill. Then Pomplun spins around and tells the group of about three dozen bar staffers what the bouncer did right: He asked to hold the ID, not just glance at it. The hulking teacher looks pleased. "Absolutely perfect," Pomplun says.

Some call him Big Bob. And he's constantly walking the line in local nightlife, where the wild world of bars and clubs meets the sober subjects of liability and lawsuits.

Ever more worried about safety, club owners and their insurers around the Twin Cities are turning to Pomplun, an ex-bartender and college wrestler, to teach their staffs how to keep the throngs of people who flock to their businesses every weekend out of trouble - and keep the bars out of court.

Two deadly incidents over the winter have put bar safety in a new spotlight. In one, a bouncer was stabbed to death while trying to stop a fight near closing time in a Blaine bar. A month later, a drunken cab driver struck and killed a drunken pedestrian who had just left a bar near Loring Park in Minneapolis. Police later cited the bar for continuing to serve the victim drinks even after he was obviously intoxicated.  Josh Hurley, the head bartender at Bootleggers in downtown Minneapolis, has had four sessions with Pomplun in the past seven months.  "Every time somebody walks up to the bar, I'm very cognizant of how they're acting," Hurley said. "You're not only responsible for that one person, you're responsible for everybody in the bar because what if you keep serving that person and they go and do something?"

Brian Holm, a doorman at the former Fahrenheit club (now called Envy), said he has become so conscious of the risks that come with working at local bars that whenever he's on duty his head is on "constant swivel." Liability is a bigger topic of concern among bars and clubs than ever, said Julia Kanouse, vice president of ServSafe Alcohol, a Chicago company that has designed a training curriculum for those businesses across the country.

Insurance paying more claims

Robert Pomplun of Serving Alcohol Inc speaks at Illinois Liquor Control Commission's 9th Annual College Town Summit on November 9, 2017.
Robert Pomplun of Serving Alcohol Inc speaks at Illinois Liquor Control Commission's 9th Annual College Town Summit on November 9, 2017.

She said insurance companies are demanding better training of bar staff because they are paying more claims in cases in which bars served minors, or served patrons too much alcohol.  "We're seeing bigger lawsuits than we've seen in the past," Kanouse said, "and bigger money is being awarded."  Many insurance companies now require training similar to Pomplun's, which educates staff members on everything from over serving alcohol to defusing altercations. Safety is the overriding issue, but the focus also is on liability - how not to mess up and get the bar sued.

Training might cost a few hundred dollars a year (plus a couple of hours of staff time), but it can save tens of thousands of dollars in insurance costs.  "If you have training that's not as in-depth and you get a claim, the potential for loss is so great," said Penny Janowiec, an insurance underwriter for local bars.  For example, a large club might pay $75,000 to $100,000 a year for insurance. A claim from a major injury blamed on an illegal alcohol sale could jack premiums up 30 to 50 percent, she said.

Lawyers who defend bars in liability cases often cite its alcohol-awareness training in the defense.  "It establishes that they have an awareness of their obligations," said Steve Tomsche, a Minneapolis attorney.  He's been there Pomplun said he knows his stuff because he once sat behind the bar.  After college, he was a bartender and bar manager for more than a decade before training became his career.  Although he has the physical build for it, Pomplun was never a bouncer. In fact, he loathes the term. Too negative, he contends. "You know what they're calling door staff on the East Coast? 'Safe people.' I've suggested that here, but so far it hasn't caught on yet."

Despite a nickname more befitting his wrestling background, his approach, peppered with references to reducing "opportunities for risk," is dead-serious.  "I'm very passionate about what I do," he said.  Indeed, he has spent 32 years carving out a niche. His training sessions take him all over the Midwest, with a client list of more than 250 bars and restaurants. His average fee is $300 to $500 for a two- to three-hour session; sometimes bars chip in together to save costs.   "Bob can talk for days about this stuff," said Dino Pearlman, who uses Pomplun's training at his Seville Club in downtown Minneapolis.  As part of his safety campaign, Pomplun has persuaded his state representative to sponsor a bill giving bar employees the right to hold onto a suspected fake ID. He also has testified in favor of the 2005 state law that ended the "power hour," a ritual in which a person turning 21 could enter a bar at midnight on his or her birthday to binge drink. And in Isanti County, where a coalition has led a "sober cab" program that he hopes will spread across the state, Pomplun is "the engine behind the train, giving us new ideas and models to work from," said Isanti County District Judge Jim Dehn.

Pomplun, 57, lives in Plymouth with his wife and 17-year-old daughter and frequently travels to other states to attend bar-industry conferences. Then he returns to spread what he learned to anyone who will listen, from police to legislators.

Pomplun said he believes one of the best models of cooperation in the country between bars and law enforcement officials happens in downtown Minneapolis. Once a month, police meet with Warehouse District club owners for what one of the organizers, Sgt. E.T. Nelson, calls an "ongoing training session." They discuss recent altercations and other incidents as well as prevention methods.

Pomplun goes to every meeting. It's good for business, of course, since he has competition - mainly from the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association. The trade group's executive director, Jim Farrell, said its training is less expensive and includes more sessions than Pomplun's. The group also offers online training.  The session At Fahrenheit awhile back, Pomplun showed up wheeling a dolly piled with boxes. Some were filled with handouts to give to the staff of about three dozen, along with forms they must sign to certify their training.

At times during the information-packed session, his voice was soft and calming, but then he would suddenly shout to get his pupils' attention:

"The only intervention you ever try to make is to help and ... "   "ASSIST!" the security guys yelled back in unison.

The large projection screen set up under the disco ball - plus the 3-foot-long pointer Pomplun slapped against the screen while showing informational slides - made the session feel more like a classroom than a club. In turn, some of the bar staffers who had been required to attend gazed back at him like bored high schoolers. Many had been through this session before. (Most clubs do it once a year.)

"It can get a little boring after seeing it five times," said Holm, the club's head of security. "[But] as a door person, just getting the updates on all the new fake IDs is helpful because they change all the time." Afterward, the staff was rewarded with pizza while Pomplun loaded up his boxes, getting ready for the next bar. He didn't get many thank-you's - those moments are few and far between in a business that's slow to change. But he said he remembers Isanti Judge Dehn once telling a group of people that Pomplun saves lives.

"I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think I was doing the right thing," Pomplun said. "And if you know you're doing the right thing, it makes you feel good."

ROBERT POMPLUN

How to make the security staff less intimidating: "People touching is one of the best ways of getting feedback. Shaking hands. I always tell door staff that emptying ashtrays and picking up bottles are good things to do. Small things that help to promote safer environments."