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SECURITY I


D


uring the 2011 riots that started in London and spread across parts of the UK, CCTV images showed how risky it can be to work in a restaurant. In London’s upmarket Notting Hill, a chef at the Ledbury – one of few UK restaurants to boast two Michelin stars – was seen tackling a masked thug with a rolling pin as he tried to defend diners. Many diners were assaulted and robbed, though staff had tried to barricade the door. Chefs and waiters took up kitchen utensils to fi ght off the mob. Recently, security concerns came to the fore after shootings at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, an incident that left nine people dead, many injured and 170 under arrest. The trouble between rival biker gangs, which centred on the restaurant’s car park, has had a disastrous effect on the brand and its franchise in Waco, prompting many in the industry to wonder whether there were steps the venue could have taken to prevent or curtail the violence.


Last on the list


The fact is that restaurant operators are rightly focused on priorities such as the quality of their food and service, along with their effi ciency and branding. They also pay far less attention to the use of security systems, partly because major incidents like those in Waco are, thankfully, rare. Yet considering how damaging these consequences can be, it may be time to move security up the restaurant operators’ agenda. “Security is often one of the last issues on the ‘to do’ list, and comes after all other operational issues,” says William H Bender FCSI, founder of US consultancy W H Bender & Associates. “The events


in Texas show how important it is. While every restaurant is different, and the needs of a family-style barbecue operation will be different to an entertainment-style brand that serves a lot of alcohol, each restaurant needs the right solution. It is certainly something restaurants should be thinking about.” “The issue doesn’t appear


on anyone’s radar,” warns David Bentley FCSI of Bentley Consulting (UK). “In my area, which is mainly universities, there are sometimes protests and sit-ins – such as one recently at Sussex University – but that is covered by a pan-campus policy, rather than anything specifi c to a particular unit on campus.” Technological solutions can help restaurants to stay on top of security issues, but fi nding the right tools depends largely on understanding the risks for a particular restaurant. Once the risks are analysed, it’s relatively quick to introduce or improve lighting, security systems, safes, monitoring and communication systems. The fi rst thought will probably be security cameras, which can be useful in the prevention of theft and vandalism, and which can provide evidence for identifying perpetrators in the event of an incident similar to Waco. The sophistication of these systems is increasing all the time,


“There are digital and wireless solutions for monitoring all areas of a restaurant, but in many cases they do not work properly. They need to be at 100% effectiveness”


Security cameras not only deter crime, but help identify perpetrators


and feeds from cameras can be monitored easily and remotely on mobile devices.


Whatever systems are chosen – surveillance, alarms, access prevention solutions or others – installing them is only the fi rst step. Security technology must be thoroughly maintained. “Keeping systems in perfect working order is as important as choosing the right ones. Lighting, security, technology and communication systems should all be fully operational,” says Bender. “There are digital and wireless solutions for monitoring all areas of a restaurant, but in many cases they do not work properly,” he adds. “They need to be maintained at 100% effectiveness. It is a cost, but it must be done. Signage outside that indicates CCTV is used will make people aware. Systems need to be integrated and, importantly, unobtrusive. It is key to put security into the initial plans. Design it in from the beginning.”


Deterring troublemakers At the design stage, it is not only security systems that should be considered, but also the image of the property that the exterior conveys. The appearance of a restaurant is a part of its branding and creates a powerful fi rst impression. The outside of a restaurant should be considered not only for branding, but also for security factors such as lighting, which play an important part in making people feel safe – whether they are on the street or in the car park. “You need to maintain a professional environment,” advises Bender. “Your business must look fi rst rate and be well maintained. This deters troublemakers. It


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