Keeping your restaurants, employees, and customers safe is always something that should be top of mind. Situations can escalate and sometimes result in injuries or significant damage to your business.
If things look to be escalating, take actions up to possibly closing the restaurant while contacting the necessary authorities (police, fire department, EMT, etc.) and internal company personnel to support you.
Widely publicize your restaurant policies.
Regularly publicize all policies to your restaurant (and if applicable, relevant laws or regulations) governing demonstrations or protests. Although public institutions are bound by the constitutional right to free speech, that right has limits, which should be spelled out plainly. If your restaurant is a private business, disseminate your rules addressing free speech or expression.
State laws may also apply, so always consult your legal counsel.
Ensure public safety is prepared.
Public safety, which typically has the most visible during a demonstration, can be supported through preparedness to handle situations without being aggressive. People need a basic understanding of their obligations under the constitution or company policy to protect freedom of speech and expression — and how those principles may translate when interacting with demonstrators.
Actions your managers and crew should be prepared for include, (but are not limited to), the following:
- Knowing when to close a restaurant
- Knowing when to contact the Police or other authorities
- Applying de-escalation training techniques to defuse tense situations
- Watching for overtly intimidating, threatening, violent, or illegal behavior
- Providing or obtaining emergency first aid for injuries
- Creating a record of events; this could include accounts from neutral observers, video recordings, or officers’ post-event written reports
Contact your brand’s U.S. Security department for further support and guidance specific to you.
U.S. and State laws may apply, so always consult your legal counsel, too.