Employees and owners of downtown Huntington Beach restaurants and bars received training on how to become more responsible business representatives.
Folks met Tuesday at the 2nd Floor restaurant off Main Street and Walnut Avenue and listened as former bar owner Gregg Hanour gave a lecture on Good Alcohol Practices for Management and Owners.
The training was paid by the Orange County nonprofit Community Service Programs as part of its project, Operation Safe HB, which aims to address the alcohol-fueled issues plaguing the downtown area.
Hanour, a former Huntington Beach resident who used to run the Shark Club in Costa Mesa and Metropolis in Irvine, used his past experiences as a mechanism to teach restaurant and bar owners how to responsibly serve alcohol and how to protect the public while still making a profit.
"I owned Metropolis for seven years, and I had to lose that business before I forced myself not to make the same type of mistakes that caused me to lose my business," he said.
Metropolis closed in 1999 after landowner Irvine Co. had different ideas for the area.
Hanour said the Shark Club had seen its fair share of trouble, having nearly closed because of the number of calls to police over fighting incidents.
Learning from his misadventures, Hanour told Kevin Johnson, owner of the 2nd Floor and Gallaghers Pub and Grill, and the management from his two businesses, how to avoid making the same mistakes.
Not over-serving customers, knowing when to cut off a patron and having respectful security were key areas that restaurants and bars could focus on to become more responsible.
Kelly Hall, general manager of 2nd Floor, said it was refreshing to hear advice from a former bar owner on how to make a business better.
"He's definitely learned some hard lessons, lessons that I don't want to learn," she said.
Hall said Hanour's tips on how to politely cut someone off — talking with the customer instead of at him or her, for example — is something she's planning to use in the future.
"Every time it's time to cut off someone, I always get this pit in my chest, like 'Ugh, alright. I'm going to cut this person off,'" she said. "I don't have a problem doing it, but I always get this feeling that they're going to hate me or get irate."
Johnson learned about the course through Huntington Beach police Sgt. Kent Ferrin and appreciated listening to Hanour's advice.
"I'm a student to this business," Johnson said. "I've been in it for a long time. If anybody offers a course [for better business management], I'm willing to take it."