Lubbock Restaurants Stepping Up Alcohol Awareness - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/2/04

Lubbock Restaurants Stepping Up Alcohol Awareness

A Lubbock woman could be facing Intoxication Manslaughter for possibly killing a man with her car. Prosecutors are waiting on autopsy reports on 29-year-old Brett Walrath who died last week.

Walrath was in a vegetative state after he was hit by a drunk driver last summer. Now, 62-year-old Callie Long, the driver could be facing 2 to20 years in prison, pending on those autopsy reports.

Long hit Walrath as he was riding his bike in August 2003 on the 3700 block of Loop 289 access road. Police reports said Long didn't stop to help and kept driving for nine minutes before she called 9-1-1.

So has Walrath's death changed the way Lubbock restaurants do business with patrons? Restaurants and servers can be held liable if they serve too much alcohol and someone is hurt or killed. Outback Steakhouse is facing a $32 million lawsuit for allegedly serving a patron too much alcohol.

Long had apparently been drinking at Outback Steakhouse.

Before passing out alcohol, Restaurant Manager Angela Pena has always enforced awareness and now, they'll be stepping it up a notch. "We maintain their intake, the bartenders and wait staff do. We keep an eye on the ticket and how many drinks they've had. If we feel they need to be cut off we cut them off," said Pena.

She says her wait staff knows not to serve someone who's had too much to drink. And if they do, Pena takes matters into her own hands. "If I feel like they've had enough, I've cut them off before. I encourage food I've even bought people food and coffee. Bought their cab rides home," said Pena.

Down a couple of blocks, Jake's Sports Bar says they will be doing business very carefully now. Jake's General Manager Marcos Sanchez says they have to because they're capable of serving 712 people in one night. "And Jake's, you do a lot of alcohol sales," asked NewsChannel 11. "Yes, it's very large volumes," said Sanchez. "We have a lot of responsibility."

Sanchez says they encourage food sales along with beverages and he says constant monitoring is key. "With the management team that we do have we'll be more efficient on how we do that," said Sanchez.

Restaurants say the business and servers could be held liable if they serve too much alcohol to someone who drives and hurts or kills someone.

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