ARLINGTON, Va. – Arlington County has launched a comprehensive and collaborative initiative to maintain the County’s vibrant nightlife while reducing alcohol related crime and building strong relationships between patrons, restaurants and government agencies. The Arlington Restaurant Initiative is a voluntary accreditation program that recognizes establishments that are committed to promoting responsible alcohol service and consumption.
“The Arlington County Police Department is committed to maintaining the safety of the County’s nightlife and entertainment areas while proactively addressing alcohol related crime and disorder” says M. Jay Farr, Chief of Police. “The Arlington Restaurant Initiative supports this commitment and works collaboratively with County agencies and businesses to improve the standards of establishments that serve alcohol through education, partnerships and open lines of communication.”
The Arlington Restaurant Initiative (ARI) Program
In an effort to increase safety for citizens and to provide restaurant owners and staff with resources to maximize their safety and viability, the Arlington County Police Department has partnered with County agencies to establish the Arlington Restaurant Initiative (ARI). The goal of ARI is to raise the standards of restaurants that serve alcohol, streamline processes within the County Government and maintain Arlington County as a safe destination for nightlife and entertainment.
The Arlington Restaurant Initiative (ARI) is an adaptation of the international restaurant accreditation program Best Bar None, which was established in the United Kingdom. Best Bar None was designed to increase safety for patrons and staff while increasing the economic viability of nightlife areas. Creating a safe environment can make businesses more profitable, lessens the draw on County resources, and improve community relations. The voluntary accreditation program provides effective practices to increase safety, including responsible alcohol service, public safety expectations, fire code/safety, food safety, and zoning compliance.
ARI Pilot Program
The ARI pilot program was launched in February 2018, with the goal of soliciting feedback from owners about implementing the program and ease of use for their employees. Ten establishments from areas throughout the County volunteered to participate. During the pilot, each establishment received the ARI Accreditation Standards and Guide for Writing Policy and training provided by County staff. Each restaurant that participated developed policies to meet the applicable ARI standards, participated in ARI staff training, and will continue reinforcing the ARI standards with their staff. Restaurants that earn ARI accreditation will receive an ARI window decal to demonstrate their commitment to safety.
Restaurants that successfully complete the ARI accreditation process demonstrate their commitment to the safety of their patrons and the community. To become accredited, restaurants must write and submit employee policies to meet recommended ARI standards. Employee policies include preventing underage drinking, participation in the Bar Bystander program, and criteria for when the police will be called to the restaurant. Restaurant staff also participate in ARI training which includes, responsible alcohol service, fake identification detection, and public safety expectations. The following establishments have achieved accreditation:
- Whitlow’s on Wilson
- William Jeffery’s Tavern
- Wilson Hardware
- Don Tito
- Freddie’s Beach Bar
- Crystal City Sports Pub
- Barley Mac
Training Provided to Establishments Participating in ARI
Police officers, fire marshals, and employees of Arlington County provide training to restaurant staff on effective practices and programs to raise effective practices and comply with the law. Types of training include:
- TiPS (Training for Intervention ProcedureS) – Responsible alcohol service
- Fake identification detection and deterrence
- De-escalation techniques for staff
- Public safety expectations and procedures if a crime occurs
- Fire safety and occupancy
- Hands only CPR Arlington County Fire Department/Hands2Hearts-Virginia Hospital Center
- Bar Bystander Program – Intervention training to reduce sexual and domestic assault
- Compliance with food safety regulations
- Assistance meeting zoning ordinances
- Active shooter training
ARI Program Expansion
The ARI Program is currently accepting additional restaurants to participate in this voluntary program. Any restaurant that holds a Virginia Alcohol Beverage and Control (ABC) license is eligible to participate. Restaurants that have a high volume of alcohol sales, serve during nightlife hours of 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., and hold a County live entertainment permit are especially encouraged to participate. Any restaurant interested in participating can contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Restaurant Liaison Unit at 703-228-7423 or ARIrestaurant@arlingtonva.us.
Benefits of the ARI Program
ARI was developed to increase the overall safety of customers, businesses and neighborhood residents in areas with nightlife and entertainment. Through a collaborative approach between government agencies and businesses, Arlington County will improve the strategies and standards of establishments that serve alcohol while building positive community relations, reducing crime and recognizing responsible businesses. Additionally, the Arlington Office of Economic Development and the Arlington Chamber of Commerce will promote restaurants that receive ARI accreditation.
For additional information on the program, please visit our website.