Marisa Santacroce may not always receive warm thank-yous as she cuts off tipsy customers, but earlier this month she received credit where it was due.
Santacroce was given the Gene Hallman Award for Outstanding Alcohol Service by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) on Dec. 16 in Milwaukie.
As the bar manager at Santacroces’ Italian Restaurant, an establishment off Highway 35 that has been in her family for over a decade, Marisa keeps one eye on the drinks she prepares and another on who’s drinking them.
“It’s a tough job,” said Santacroce. “People do get defensive when you cut them off. This isn’t really the kind of establishment where people get overly intoxicated, but sometimes they will come in that way.”
In such situations, Santacroce refuses to serve the visitors more alcohol, offering them water or food instead.
“Eighty percent of them get defensive and leave,” she said. “There have been a couple instances where we’ve had to escort them out the door, but our clientele tends to be more mature than that.”
Santacroce keeps the number of a cab company handy, and also an incident log where she records licenses and witnesses. While the OLCC doesn’t require such a log, it is strongly suggested. Beyond the OLCC regulations, Santacroce relies on house rules that she makes clear to her staff, stressing that everyone gets the same treatment.
“I know what I’m making, and I remember what I send out,” said Santacroce. “I communicate with the servers and waitstaff to make sure no one goes over the line. The staff is great — they apply the house rules to everybody.”
Santacroce and her staff take classes every four years in order to keep their alcohol service permits.
“The bottom line is that we want people to come in and enjoy a great meal with a glass of wine or a cocktail without pushing their limits,” Santacroce said. “We don’t want people to get hurt. It’s about safety — I wouldn’t want someone to keep serving me if I were having too much. I’d expect to be treated the same.”
The Hallman Award came as a shock to Santacroce. Winners of OLCC awards are nominated by fellow liquor licensees, members of the community, or OLCC.
“I guess I was nominated, but I don’t know who did it,” she said. “It was quite an honor, but I’m just doing my job.”