From RBS to the Sociable City

1983-1993: Laying the Foundation for Community Organizing

The Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) was founded in 1983 as a Massachusetts non-profit corporation with a mission to promote legal and social awareness programs for the hospitality industry.

RHI’s premier project was the First Northeast Conference on Alcohol Server Liability in 1984, an event that defined the potential role of responsible beverage service in the prevention of drunk driving and alcohol abuse and demonstrated the benefit of facilitating discussion among an inclusive network of stakeholders.

During this time, RHI staff participated on national panels developing policy recommendations, consulted on federally-funded research projects evaluating the effectiveness of responsible beverage service training and other server-oriented strategies, and spearheaded the formation of Responsible Hospitality Councils in cities across the country.

In 1989, RHI relocated from Massachusetts to California and built programs based on research demonstrating that the combination of server training, management policies and an organized community coalition resulted in the most effective change in high risk practices among hospitality establishments.

1994-1997: Establishment of a Collaborative Partnership Model

Ending its first decade, RHI organized a meeting of national agencies, associations and advocacy groups to plan a symposium on responsible hospitality. Held in Chicago in 1994, the Symposium on Responsible Hospitality galvanized a new national network of stakeholders and began the process of expanding the RHI network.

RHI recognized the need for more focused response to high risk businesses, and in 1994 convened the Monterey Hospitality Resource Panel (HRP) as a mechanism for coordinated intervention using a team of government, business and community representatives. A second project in El Cajon, California further demonstrated the value of the HRP as a community organizing and problem-solving tool.

The HRP process continued to evolve in 1996 when RHI received a contract with the City of San Diego Office of Small Business to develop a HRP as a framework for business improvement. The San Diego HRP continues today, serving as a model for other cities.

The HRP process gained recognition on a national level when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services added a recommendation for the development of HRP's in 30 states to the Healthy People 2000: National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives. The HRP process was acknowledged for promoting responsible beverage service by bringing together hospitality workers with law enforcement and licensing representatives.

1997 -2003 Evolution to Downtown Development

In 1997, with funding from the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, RHI held the first HRP Training Institute in San Diego to showcase the HRP process. HRPs began forming in cities across the country, including Athens, Georgia, Washington, DC, Montgomery County, Maryland, Tallahassee and Tampa, Florida, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Joliet, Illinois, Seattle, Washington and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

During this time, the RHI board expanded to include representatives from the International Downtown Association and the National Main Street Center. The organization focused on developing a clearinghouse of information on promising practices and strategies for communities to use in managing dining and entertainment districts. Over the years, a growing portfolio emerged, featuring successful approaches relating to noise, trash, litter, underage drinking, intoxication, traffic, pedestrian safety, and other relevant issues. 

In 2004 RHI began a three-year project with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to incorporate a highway safety focus into the HRP process and to expand Clearinghouse resources.

2004 – Today: Broad Focus on Hospitality Zones and Nightlife

RHI continues its mission of assisting communities create safe and vibrant places to socialize through a variety of program offerings. In 2006, RHI’s premier publication, Planning, Managing and Policing: A Practical Guide, launched as the first comprehensive resource to plan and manage nightlife. Annual networking conferences and leadership summit events have connected a broad range of city leaders worldwide.

Meanwhile, RHI’s Sociable City Network became the central online access point for RHI’s nightlife management resources, research and best practices. In 2007, the webinar and seminar series provided real-time presentations of cutting edge strategies. For cities in need of guided consultation, RHI’s Hospitality Zone Assessment process was implemented in nearly forty cities throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Beginning in 2014, RHI's partnership with the Major Cities Chiefs Association convened a series of Public Safety and Policing Nightlife Districts in Los Angeles (2015), Charleston (2016) and Austin (2017).


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Responsible Hospitality Institute

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RHI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1983 with a mission to assist businesses and communities to plan safe and vibrant places to socialize. RHI's Sociable City events create an organized  opportunity to connect and share information with peers and access resources from RHI. 
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