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By in Latest News Comments Off on Shopping Around: Why Insurance Needs A Check-up

Shopping Around: Why Insurance Needs A Check-up

Bart Everson CC BY (https;//

By now, most people are familiar with GEICO commercials that say “15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more on car insurance.”

But is it true? Can a person save money on car insurance by essentially shopping around, and can it be as high as 15 percent? According to a 2018 article in Forbes, there appears to be some truth in the statement. In an eight-state study conducted by the magazine, researchers dug into data and found supporting statistics based upon state medians. But, the article also mentioned that Geico is not always the cheapest.

None-the-less, depending upon who you are with, shopping around may be worth a driver’s time.

So, can a tavern owner apply this theory to business insurance including liquor liability? And should a tavern owner have business insurance?

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, many small businesses often assume that by forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC), they’ll be afforded protection in the event of a lawsuit. However, while this structure can protect you from personal liability for business decisions or actions of the LLC – the liability protection is limited.

So, yes, it’s a good idea to be insured as a business.

And, can a tavern owner save money by shopping around?

“Absolutely,” says Chuck Moran, executive director at the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association. “We encourage our Members not to get too comfortable with their current insurance arrangements. It’s important to see how sharp their pencils are.”

He offers the following tips based upon conversations with Members, insurance companies, and brokers.

  1. Assess your risks. Work with a qualified insurance professional to perform a risk management assessment, providing a list of potential events that could lead to a loss, determine estimated costs of each, and how best to address each risk.
  2. Direct writer or broker? Either option is fine. Just be sure that you trust the person you are working with to ensure you are getting the best price and the right insurance for your business needs.
  3. If working with a broker, ask to see a few bids. Compare rates. Understand differences.
  4. Brokers work on commission, while direct writers may not. Don’t stick with an unsuitable agent because that’s who you always worked with or because you don’t want to hurt his or her feelings by switching. Get what you need.
  5. Discounts? Well, maybe … maybe not! That’s why you need to shop around. Sometimes packages that come with a “discount” are not the best priced option, and, possibly not the right insurance package. Discounts are marketing gimmicks that are not always in the best interest of the buyer.
  6. Costs and coverage vary between companies. Know what you are buying. Read everything.
  7. When you’re buying business insurance, talk to an industry specialist who understands common problems unique to the bar business. Often specialist can get you the best coverage and the best rates.
  8. Do an annual business check-up. Make it a part of your yearly routine. As your business changes, so will your insurance needs.
  9. Evaluate. Evaluate.

Moran adds that the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage’s preferred insurer for liquor liability is Integrated Specialty Coverages, available through brokers statewide. “Of course, as an Association we want our Members to ask their brokers for a quote from ISC while they’re shopping around,” Moran says. “Taking an extra 15 minutes by getting that one extra quote might be worth your time!”


By in Latest News Comments Off on Harrisburg Check-in – Getting to know Rep. Kurt Masser

Harrisburg Check-in – Getting to know Rep. Kurt Masser

The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association sat down with Rep. Kurt Masser recently to learn more about him and his interest in politics. He is the only active tavern owner who sits in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. In addition to owning Wayside Inn in Shamokin, he represents Montour County and parts of Northumberland and Columbia County in the state House. In recent months, Rep. Masser has been hosting a listening tour, travelling to different counties to meet with tavern owners about their concerns.

PLBTA: Tell us about the Wayside Inn. How long have you been in the bar business and why?
KM: I have been in the business for 38 years, we have owned the Wayside Inn for 31 years. We originated in the hospitality industry because of a need to market our farm products. I grew up on the family farm. We first started a farm market, then went into the restaurant and catering business and then we purchased the Wayside Inn. All are still open and doing well.

PLBTA: Thinking back to your first elected position, what motivated you to run for public office?
KM: It was as simple as opening my real estate tax bill at the business. I was mad as hell because of a large tax increase. I knew I had a couple of options, harp and complain or get involved, I chose the latter and ran for and won a seat as County Commissioner, then 7 years later for State Representative.

PLBTA: There are a number of pressing issues facing tavern owners today. Of all the issues, which ones are you most concerned with addressing?
KM: I have spent considerable time on gaming for taverns. But I also have been hearing from a number of people in the industry about fairness between different types of licensees, and am now working on those issues also.

PLBTA: Passage of Act 39 forced many changes in the retail liquor industry, with unintended consequences for many licensees.  Similar changes took place with each new law regulating gaming, from small games of chance to skill games and VGTs.  Taverns are facing more challenges and more competition than ever before from many angles.  Do you anticipate the Pennsylvania House of Representatives looking at the impacts of Act 39, and making changes to help level the playing field for all licensees?
KM: I think we have to look at the impacts of Act 39, and it is my job to help the rest of the General Assembly understand the challenges we face. The industry has radically changed since I’ve been in it, we need to be able to change and also to adapt, but more importantly we need the legislature to partner with us to protect our industry and the jobs associated with it.

PLBTA:  What can tavern owners do to help convince legislators to support them and get the changes they need from the PLCB and state government?
KM: Most importantly get to know your legislators. Make sure they hear from you! It means much, much more to me when I hear from a constituent in my District. Invite them to meet with you and talk about the issues. If possible, do a meeting with numerous tavern owners from his/her district and the legislator. They need to hear from you. It can be very frustrating when we are advancing a bill that either hurts or helps us and I hear from my colleagues that they hadn’t heard from any tavern owners.

PLBTA: As you know, our Members are mostly Mom-and-Pop operations. When they look around their hometowns, they can see that the local hardware store has closed, the independent doctor was bought out by a hospital chain, and the neighborhood grocery store is no more. They worry that their industry is next. Do you ever worry about small businesses going away?
KM: I do have concerns, but I don’t worry that our industry will go away. As I have said before, like any other business, times change, industries change, and you need to be ready and willing to change with those times.

PLBTA:  Rep. Masser, do you have any advice for bar and tavern owners about how to help change the state’s liquor or gaming laws?
KM: Get involved and let your voice be heard. You need to know your State Rep. and your State Senator, and they need to know you. I know running your business takes all of your time, and sometimes you may think “what is the point, it won’t matter”. I was just like most of you before being elected, but I now know how wrong I was.

PLBTA: Do you have any advice to other tavern owners who may be interested in running for office someday?
KM: If you are able to, you should run for office. Whether local, state or Federal, we need more people in office who have signed the front of the check. We need more people who have struggled to make payroll and pay bills, that know how changes to any laws can and will affect small business.


This Q&A was republished from the February 2020 edition of Pennsylvania Observer — the official monthly magazine of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association.



By in Latest News Comments Off on Harrisburg Check-in: Getting to know Tim Holden, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

Harrisburg Check-in: Getting to know Tim Holden, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association sat down with Tim Holden recently to learn more about him and his goals at the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Holden was nominated to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board by Gov. Tom Corbett on June 14, 2013. He was named Chairman of the PLCB by Gov. Tom Wolf on Feb. 17, 2015. Prior to his appointment to the PLCB, Holden was the US Congressman for Central Pennsylvania’s 17th congressional district from 1993 to 2013, and before that, Sheriff of Schuylkill County. He is a resident of St. Clair, near Pottsville, and a graduate of Bloomsburg University.

PLBTA: Thinking back to when you first became involved in politics and government, what motivated you to do so
TH: Being in politics is sort of the family business. My father was a Schuylkill County commissioner when I was two years old. He retired from that position my senior year in high school. My grandfather was a borough councilman. My great-grandfather was president of the first miners’ union, the Workingmen’s Benevolent Association. Growing up, we were always talking about politics and sports around the table every night at dinner. I was always taught that public service was a noble profession.

PLBTA: As chair of the PLCB, what is your priority? Can you describe your role as chair?
TH: I really enjoy being chairman of the PLCB at this point in its history. There are so many things going on, so many positive changes. Act 39 of 2016 was really was transformational, and I was proud to see the whole agency come together to adapt and complete all the things the PLCB had to do with great professionalism. The PLCB is a $2.7 billion business, and we are running more smoothly, more efficiently, and more professionally than ever before.

As chairman, it’s my job to make sure we continue to operate that way. I work very closely with Board Members Mike Negra and Mary Isenhour and with our Executive Team to make sure the PLCB remains as successful and efficient as possible. We have stressed improving the customer experience and we are trying to be as consumer-friendly as possible. We’re also making sure our Bureau of Licensing has the resources it needs to support almost 21,000 licensees and permittees.

This Board also takes its role in promoting responsible alcohol consumption very seriously, and we’ve committed serious funds to campaigns such as Know When. Know How.SM, an award-winning campaign that reaches out to parents of children as young as 8 years old.

PLBTA: There are always conversations going on about the distribution of liquor licenses. Some parts of the state say they need more, while in other parts they can’t be given away. Where does the PLCB stand in terms of license distribution? Should the county quota system be updated regularly to reflect population changes?
TH: As an administrative agency tasked under current law with responsible, effective, and efficient regulation of the liquor licenses, we generally leave policy discussions up to the General Assembly and the Governor.

PLBTA: As you know, our Members are mostly Mom-and-Pop taverns and bars. When they look around their hometowns, they can see that the local hardware store has closed, the independent doctor was bought out by a hospital chain, and the neighborhood grocery store is no more. They worry that their industry is next. Do you ever worry about our small business pubs going away, and is it a concern for the PLCB?
TH: I grew up in a small town and, as a member of Congress, I represented many, many small towns and small businesses. In fact, some of my favorite campaign stops were in mom-and-pop bars at the end of a long day on the trail. In many cases, those businesses are the gathering places, the backbones, the life blood of those communities. We have tried to make things easier for small licensees. We tried to reduce the amount of paperwork they have to fill out. We put most of the licensing forms online and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so licensees can take care of them when they have the time. We’ve opened more licensee service centers so mom-and-pop licensees have simpler access to products. While the PLCB cannot favor one type of licensee over another, we are trying to make it easier for small licensees.

PLBTA: There have been two legislative hearings last year about flexible pricing that Act 39 granted the PLCB. You personally have testified on both occasions. What message do you have for bar owners about flexible pricing?
TH: In Act 39, the legislature and Governor Wolf gave us the authority to use our purchasing power. Since the PLCB was granted flexible pricing authority, we have been able to both maintain fair and competitive prices on a wide selection of products that deliver value, variety and quality, while growing profit and revenue to meet increased funding requests of the PLCB to help balance the state budget for the benefit of all Pennsylvanians. While prices on more than 80 percent of our products have not changed in the last few years, we have been able to get better returns for the citizens of Pennsylvania. Just a few years ago, the PLCB was giving $80 million of its profits to the General Fund. Last year, we gave more than $185 million of our profits to the General Fund. We have made the flexible pricing process as fair as possible, and we have been transparent with our vendors.

As a former elected member of the US House of Representatives, do you have any advice to tavern owners who may be interested in running for office at any level someday?
TH: Get involved in your community, even if you’re not running for office right now. Become a voice in your community. If you’re really serious about running for office, get behind a person or an issue or a party and start there. I always say you can’t start at the top, so just get involved in the process. See if you like it. If you do, reach higher and higher.

This Q&A was republished from the January edition of Pennsylvania Observer, the official magazine of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association.


By in Latest News Comments Off on Small business dilemma: health care access for employees

Small business dilemma: health care access for employees

Nationally, the top four health issues for employees are all preventable or treatable, but it’s important for tavern owners and their employees to have access to primary care to stay healthy and on the job.

According to one human resource consultant company, the top four health issues for employees include

  • High blood pressure
  • Allergies
  • Cholesterol
  • Back pain

Any of those, can result in employees missing work.

So, what can owners of bars, taverns, and restaurants do to keep their staffs on the job?

The average Member of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association has a total of 16.8 employees. As far as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is concerned, they’re considered small employers—those with less than 50 full-time equivalent employees. As such, they do not need to provide health insurance coverage to employees.

It’s important to note that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed in 2017, did not repeal the ACA—only the individual mandate. Even though there are court challenges to the ACA, the employer mandate for large employers is still in place.

Regardless, we know many tavern owners want to offer health care access as a benefit, but struggle with the cost of health insurance. As a result, many do not offer it at all.

But there are options to consider, and they could involve direct primary care (DPC) plans.

To be clear, a DPC plan is not health insurance. Instead, DPC is a plan to manage primary care directly between a provider and patient. This plan includes a variety of care associated with family or primary care doctors.

Idea #1 to bring down business costs: a small business may consider offering employees a DPC plan in combination with a high-deductible insurance policy to cover emergencies. Compared to traditional health insurance, high-deductible insurance plans typically cost less.

Let’s do the math on this.  A DPC plan can be as low as $65 per month through partnerships such as Healthcare2U and Gettysburg Benefits Administrators Inc. That comes out to $780 per year for an individual. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2017 the average annual premiums in the northeast for workers in a high deductible health plan with a savings option was $5,877 for single coverage. That combination comes out to $6,657 per year. If an employer in the northeast chose an HMO during that same year, the average cost for single coverage was $7,663.

Essentially, going with a combination of a DPC and high-deductible plan would have saved about $1,000.

Of course, that’s still a lot of money for a small business wanting to help their employees. So, what are other possibilities?

Idea # 2 to bring down business costs: some small business employers offer a combination of a DPC and a set amount of money to help the employee purchase insurance in the marketplace… or maybe just a DPC.

Melissa Lemaster of Gettysburg Benefits Administrators, Inc., says her company understands the struggles of small businesses and often sits down with them to discuss a wide arrange of options. She adds that a DPC is a creative option to consider.

“Healthcare generally begins with primary care,” she says. “In addition to potential cost savings it could create, a DPC plan makes sense.”


Disclosure: Healthcare2U / Gettysburg Benefits Administrators, Inc. is a preferred vendor of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association. To learn more about DPC plans, contact Melissa Lemaster at or call her at 800-497-4474, ext. 5030 or 717-334-3191.

This article was republished from the December 2019 edition of Pennsylvania Observer, the official monthly magazine of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association.


Preferred Vendor: Gettysburg Benefits Administration Inc

By in Latest News Comments Off on Party Prep Brings Payoff

Party Prep Brings Payoff

Fabio Ingrosso [CC BY 2.0 (]


The holiday season is upon us. Businesses across Pennsylvania will be celebrating the season with office parties. Some will need catering services to their location. Others may want to move the party to a local tavern, pub, or restaurant.

Regardless the location, it’s a great opportunity for tavern and restaurant owners to boost earnings late in the year.

And, it isn’t necessarily a hard sell when you reach out to your local businesses. They likely want to support other local businesses, and that could open the door for you.

First step is to get the job! Here are some suggestions …

  • Call some of the local businesses and ask to speak to someone in charge of their holiday party.
  • Work through your local chamber of commerce.
  • Send a direct mailer to human resource departments at nearby businesses.
  • Advertise availability through your own signage.
  • Network, network, network.

Once you have the job, we suggest the following so that your pub or restaurant shines so much that they can’t wait to come back next year …

  • Create an experience! Set the holiday mood. Make it festive with holiday music, lights, and decorations.
  • Ask what type of party they expect? Does it include a sit-down meal? Is it a mixer with light fare? How is alcohol to be handled … by the company or the employee?
  • Make sure you have the right number of servers dedicated to the party. Good service will be remembered.
  • Be clear with the business regarding the menu, and what to do if there is a special on-site request from one of their employees.
  • Speaking of special requests, ask the business if any employee attending has dietary restrictions associated with food allergies, gluten, or other health-related situations. If so, find an option in advance so those employees can fully enjoy the celebration.
  • Come to an agreement with the business regarding the party’s hours. In scheduling, allot time for early arrivals and those leaving late. Parties are social events, so anticipate guests showing up in advance of scheduled hours and guests lingering after the designated party hours.
  • Some holiday parties include activities such as employee recognition awards or holiday-themed games. Know if the local business has any such plans and understand if additional space or equipment (ie speaker system) would be needed.

Remember employers host holiday parties and other fun employee activities to increase morale, improve the culture within their business, and promote teamwork. You’ll want to do everything within your control to help that business reach those goals. Make sure their party goes off without a hitch.

Finally, sometime after the holiday party, follow up with the business and thank them for spending their holidays at your establishment.

This story was republished from the November 2019 edition of the Pennsylvania Observer, the official monthly magazine of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association.

Preferred Vendor: Gettysburg Benefits Administration Inc

By in Latest News Comments Off on Accommodating Individuals With Assistance Animals in the Food Service Industry

Accommodating Individuals With Assistance Animals in the Food Service Industry

Photo Attribution: Jami430 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

“So a man and a dog walk into a bar…”  What might sound to some like the start of an old-fashioned bar joke is no laughing matter for those with disabilities or the businesses required to accommodate them.  Assistance animals are becoming increasingly common and may be referred to by varying terms, such as service animals, therapy animals, and emotional support animals.  The extent to which assistance animals are protected legally varies depending upon the animal’s purpose, species and training.  Unfortunately, navigating these legal protections can be challenging, and improper handling of requests by individuals with service animals can subject business owners to legal liability, as well as a potential public relations nightmare.

In the food service industry, which is held to health and cleanliness standards beyond those applicable to most other retailers, business owners might be tempted to assume they have greater latitude to refuse service to individuals who attempt to enter with service or support animals due to numerous restrictions imposed by state and local health codes.  This assumption is incorrect, however, and such refusals can have serious consequences.

The primary laws governing assistance animals for Pennsylvania businesses are a federal statute, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and a state statute, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA).  Business owners should also be sure to check to determine whether any local ordinances may apply.

Under the ADA, generally only dogs (and in some limited circumstances miniature horses) are recognized as service animals.  The ADA provides broad protections for service animals, and requires the following:

  • Businesses and organizations must permit service animals in all areas where the public is permitted.
  • Allergies and fears of service animals are not valid reasons to refuse access or service.
  • The ADA’s requirements supersede all state and local health codes – so restaurants and other food service providers may not refuse service or access on that basis.
  • Persons with service animals may not be treated differently from other patrons – e.g. isolated from other patrons, charged an additional fee, or in any manner treated less favorably than other patrons.
  • Service animals must be harnessed, leashed or tethered, unless the person’s disability prevents such implements, in which case the service animal need only be under the person’s control, such as by voice commands or hand signals.
  • The only valid reasons a business may exclude a service animal are situations where the animal is not under the person’s control, the animal is dangerous or poses an immediate threat to others, or the animal is not housebroken. Even in situations such as these, the business may not simply eject the individual, but must offer alternatives for the person to obtain services – e.g. offering take-out or an opportunity for the person to return without the animal for service.

Under the ADA when evaluating only those situations where the service animal’s purpose is not obvious – businesses are limited to asking two questions of persons with service animals:

  1. Is the service animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task does the animal perform?

Businesses may not inquire regarding the nature of the person’s disability, and may not require medical documentation or certification regarding the animal’s service status or abilities.  Business owners also may not require the person or animal to demonstrate any work or task.

To further complicate matters, the PHRA – which applies to all businesses with more than 4 employees operating in Pennsylvania – provides even broader coverage than the ADA.  The PHRA does not limit coverage to dogs and miniature horses – meaning that other species arguably are covered by the Act.  The PHRA also does not use the term “service animal” – instead using the more expansive phrase “guide or support animal” – which may include emotional support animals whose purpose is to provide generalized comfort to an individual with a disability, rather than being trained to provide a specific service.  The PHRA does recognize exceptions similar to those under the ADA with regard to refusing allow animals not under control or who pose a direct safety hazard.

The result of these differences is that while businesses may ask the ADA permitted questions above, in Pennsylvania they likely cannot legally refuse service to someone with an animal because the animal does not perform specific work or a specific task.

So how should a business respond to requests by patrons to enter a bar, restaurant, or other food-service establishment with a service or comfort animal?

First, given the overlap between the ADA and PHRA, business owners in Pennsylvania are in a gray area if they attempt to exclude all animals other than dogs and miniature horses on the basis that other species are not covered by the ADA – because there is no such exclusion under the PHRA.  Does that mean that someone can bring an emotional support pig into your restaurant?  Unfortunately, the answer is… maybe.

The business certainly may ask if the animal is required because of a disability.  If the answer is yes – provided the pig is under the person’s control, housebroken, and poses no clear threat to other patrons – it may be difficult to legally refuse the request.

Overall, given the current law in this area, businesses should exercise caution when handling service or comfort animal requests.  Staff should be trained to ensure they are not asking questions beyond those permitted by law and are not demanding documentation.  Moreover, given the potential for liability, decisions to refuse access should only be made by senior management.  In cases where the facts are unclear or if a business owner has any doubts, the best way to limit exposure is to consult with legal counsel.

This article was written by Charles Calkins and Christine Nentwig of CGA Law Firm, a preferred vendor of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association. CGA Law Firm has an experienced team of PLCB attorneys available to licensees throughout Pennsylvania to answer questions regarding the new requirements and license suspension process, discuss the steps necessary to ensure compliance, and provide representation and counsel in resolving PLCB suspensions and citations. To reach CGA Law Firm, call (717) 848-4900.

*Any opinion expressed in the article is not to be construed as legal advice to any individual or entity.

This article has been republished from the October 2019 edition of Pennsylvania Observer, the official magazine of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association.


Preferred Vendor: Gettysburg Benefits Administration Inc

By in Latest News Comments Off on House Liquor Control Committee Moves Flexible Pricing Repeal Bill; Three Other Bills

House Liquor Control Committee Moves Flexible Pricing Repeal Bill; Three Other Bills

The Pennsylvania House Liquor Control Committee moved HB 1512 with a 15-10 vote down party lines at a voting meeting held on September 19.

Sponsored by Rep. Jesse Topper, HB 1512 would repeal flexible pricing granted to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board as part of Act 39. In a sponsorship memo, Rep. Topper wrote, “The PLCB championed flexible pricing as a way for the Board to more effectively negotiate with liquor suppliers, and to provide more revenue to the Commonwealth, while also using the new leverage flexible pricing provides the Board to lower the price of some products in State Stores. After seeing the impact of flexible pricing, I have not been convinced that this change has led to lower prices for the consumer, nor has the Board convincingly shown that this provision has provided our Commonwealth with increased revenues.”

The vote by the House Liquor Control Committee comes after the bill was the subject of two hearings earlier this year.

The committee also moved three other bills during its meeting.

HB 1048, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Knowles would eliminate the $700 liquor license surcharge to fire companies and veteran organizations. Rep. Frank Burns attempted to amend the bill to eliminate the surcharge for all liquor licenses, but the amendment failed to receive a second and thus failed. However, Democratic Chair Dan Deasy said shortly afterwards that the proposed amendment is something that should be discussed for all licenses, but this bill dedicated to fire companies and veteran groups was not the place to do so.

Knowles original bill passed 25-0 to move out of committee.

HB 1542, sponsored by Rep. Stan Saylor, also passed 25-0. In a sponsorship memo earlier, Saylor wrote, “My legislation would allow any entity eligible for a special occasion permit to obtain that permit for nine consecutive or non-consecutive days throughout the year in addition to ten consecutive days. The purpose of my legislation is to allow the York County Agricultural Society, which owns the York fairgrounds and operates the York Fair, to obtain a special occasion permit for events held at the fairgrounds in addition to holding the permit for the duration of the Fair.”

The York County Agricultural Society is also a Member of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association.

Finally, the committee passed HB 1589, sponsored by Rep. Steve Samuelson. The vote was 25-0. This bill adjusts the operating hours for performing arts facilities to begin selling alcohol on Sunday from 1:00 pm to 10:00 am to better accommodate the various show times which often begin prior to 1:00. There are currently 95 active and pending Performing Arts Facility licensees statewide.

Preferred Vendor: Gettysburg Benefits Administration Inc

By in Latest News Comments Off on Run, Hide, Fight

Run, Hide, Fight

Advice for tavern and bar employees on how to respond to an active shooter incident

Minnesota Historical Society [CC BY-SA 2.0 (]

We’ve all seen it play out on television. An active shooter walks into a concert, movie theater, or school while killing randomly. Bars too can be a target as we all witnesses in 2016 when 49 guests at a nightclub in Orlando lost their lives in a mass shooting, while another 53 were wounded.

Would you and your staff know what to do to protect yourselves and your patrons? If not, now may be a good time to sit down with your staff and start training.

If so, according to many experts, your training should begin by learning “Run, Hide, Fight.”

The first option in an active shooter situation is always to run away, if possible. Getting away from the shooter is the top priority for you, your staff, and your patrons. And, as you run away, here are a few things to do:

  • Leave your belongings behind! Just get away as quickly as you can.
  • Help others escape, if possible, but evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
  • As you are escaping, warn and prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
  • When you are safe, call 911. Try to remember what the shooter looked like, where the shooting was, and what weapons are being used. This will help law enforcement.
  • If police are already on the scene, keep your hands visible and do everything they say to do.
  • When training your bar staff, go over all possible evacuation routes.

Maybe it’s too late to run. The gunman is getting closer, but unfortunately, you can’t get past him safely. Now is the time to protect yourself by getting out of the shooter’s view and staying very quiet. As you’re doing that, remember these tips:

  • Silence all electronic devices and make sure they won’t vibrate.
  • Lock and block doors, close blinds, and turn off lights.
  • Don’t hide in groups. Spread out along walls or hide separately to make it more difficult for the shooter.
  • Try to communicate with police silently. Use text messages or social media to let law enforcement know where you are.
  • Stay in place until law enforcement gives you the all clear. Then very carefully listen to the instructions of law enforcement.

With no other option left, you may have to fight to safe your life. At this point, you have to be committed for your own sake.  If you want to keep alive, you likely will have to act as aggressively as possible. These tips may keep you alive:

  • Recruit others to ambush the shooter with makeshift weapons. Items like bar stools, fire extinguishers, scissors, and various kitchen objects could be used.
  • Since likely it is a fight for your life, you may need to cause severe (or maybe lethal) injury to the shooter.

When training your bar staff, consider using materials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. A number of useful training materials that can be downloaded or viewed online for free including a booklet titled “how to respond” to an active shooter at

This story was republished from the September 2019 edition of Pennsylvania Observer, the official magazine of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association. For information on joining our Association, please send an email to

Preferred Vendor: Gettysburg Benefits Administration Inc




By in Latest News Comments Off on PLBTA Tip: Carding … Never Out Of Style

PLBTA Tip: Carding … Never Out Of Style

Back to school means it’s fake ID time too!

Soon college campuses will be full again. Classes will be in session. And football stadiums filled on Saturdays.

For businesses in a college town, it’s a blessing. With students returning (and parents visiting), local businesses can expect increased walk-in traffic.

For the local bars and taverns, it also means an increase in the number of fake IDs showing up. And these aren’t your father’s fake IDs. They’re much more convincing and significantly more difficult to detect than in the past.

There was a time when bouncers and servers had an easier time catching a fake ID. Years ago, they were likely made by a student working out of his dorm room using an instamatic camera and white card board.

Today, websites located in foreign countries have come close to perfecting any state driver license.

On one of the most popular fake ID websites (we won’t mention the name here as we don’t want to give it any publicity), underage students can purchase a fake ID using cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. For a fake Pennsylvania ID the cost is $200 for two fake IDs plus a lifetime replacement. The student supplies a photo and regular information you’d find on any driver’s license via the website.

Shortly later, a package arrives via the campus mail to the student dorm room. Sometimes the package contains a stuffed animal, while other times the package may be a pair of shoes or another item. Regardless, somewhere in that item are the fake IDs. This technique makes it easier for foreign websites to get their packages past U.S. Customs and into the hands of underage students.

What makes these fake IDs difficult to catch is that they are scannable, making it tougher than ever before in detecting one.

So, what should a bar do to battle fake IDs? Consider the following:

  • Cops in Shops … while these fake IDs look very convincing, law enforcement have detected at least one fatal flaw (we won’t mention it in this article as we don’t want to tip off the bad guys). Work with local law enforcement to have an officer at your bar posing as a bouncer.
  • Dressed Officers … ask your local police to work with your bouncer at the door checking IDs. Bouncers are trained to give back all IDs, even if they’re fake. On the other hand, police will confiscate fake IDs, thus getting one off the street.
  • Flashlight Tip-off … shine a flashlight through the card. If the light comes through as a color, it’s fake.
  • Bend the card … fake IDs sometimes present a crease in the laminate.
  • Feel the card … fake IDs often feel smoother.
  • Trojan Horse … know who you’re hiring as your bouncer and servers. You don’t want the popular frat guy letting all of his brothers in regardless of age.
  • Scanners … use them, but also do a visual. Scanners will help you document the carding which may be useful later.
  • Tough questions … ask the owner of the ID card tough questions such as “what’s your zodiac sign” and “can you tell me the location where you got your driver’s license photo taken.”
  • Student ID … ask if they also have their student ID with them and if you can see it too.
  • Bouncer coalition … work with other establishments in your area to get the bouncers to talk to one another so that everyone knows what the others are seeing. Often times trends develop such as seeing a number of licenses coming from certain states.

It’s typically recommended to card anyone who looks younger than 35. Some establishments card everyone as a matter of policy. If you do that, and a fake ID accidently gets by, you’ll have some protection. Pennsylvania liquor code states that no penalty shall be imposed against a licensee or its employee for serving alcohol to a minor if it is established to the satisfaction of an administrative law judge that (1) the minor was required to produce an acceptable for of identification; and (2) either (a) the minor completed and signed a declaration of age card, (b) a photograph, photocopy, or other visual or video presentation was made, or (c) the identification was scanned by a transaction scan device and found to be valid; and (3) these documents were relied upon in good faith.

As such, it’s also best that a licensee document the carding of each customer and retain that information for two years.

The above article was republished from the Pennsylvania Observer, the official magazine of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association.


By in Latest News Comments Off on PLCB Now Accepting Sealed Bids for Ninth Auction of Expired Restaurant Licenses

PLCB Now Accepting Sealed Bids for Ninth Auction of Expired Restaurant Licenses

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) recently issued an invitation for bids to award 25 expired restaurant licenses in the ninth license auction since Act 39 became effective in August 2016.

This auction includes one license in each of the following 25 counties: Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Blair, Clearfield, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Forest, Huntingdon, Lackawanna, Lawrence, Lebanon, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Montgomery, Northampton, Northumberland, Philadelphia, Pike, Somerset, Warren, Wayne, and Westmoreland.

Bids for this restaurant license auction are due by noon Monday, Sept. 16. The ninth auction will again use a sealed bid process, which has so far resulted in winning bids on 257 licenses offered in previous auctions. Bids will be opened Thursday, Sept. 19, and auction winners will be determined soon thereafter.

The minimum bid for each license is $25,000, and each bid must be accompanied by a bid surety of $5,000 or 5 percent of the total bid amount – whichever is higher – to avoid frivolous and underfunded bids.

The highest responsive bidder for each license will win the right to submit an application for the license to the PLCB within six months of auction award. If bid payment is not received within two weeks of auction award, the second-highest bidder will have the opportunity to apply for the license. Bids will be held in escrow by the PLCB, pending approval of the license application.

Bidders with questions regarding this invitation for bids must submit inquiries via email to by noon Friday, Aug. 16. Questions and answers will be posted to the Department of General Services e-marketplace website by 3:00 PM Wednesday, Aug. 21.

Lists of winning bids from each of the eight previous auctions are available on the license auction page of the PLCB website. Auction revenue recognized thus far from all previous auctions totals $27.2 million, while another $3.1 million remains in escrow, pending license approvals.

The PLCB regulates the distribution of beverage alcohol in Pennsylvania, operates more than 600 wine and spirits stores statewide, and licenses 20,000 alcohol producers, retailers, and handlers. The PLCB also works to reduce and prevent dangerous and underage drinking through partnerships with schools, community groups, and licensees. Taxes and store profits – totaling $16.5 billion since the agency’s inception – are returned to Pennsylvania’s General Fund, which finances Pennsylvania’s schools, health and human services programs, law enforcement, and public safety initiatives, among other important public services. The PLCB also provides financial support for the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, other state agencies, and local municipalities across the state. For more information about the PLCB, visit