• Kim Pouncey knows the law and understands how to make complicated material relevant to servers, retail clerks and managers. Choose TopShelf and get the most out of it for your staff.

    Will Cheek, Attorney at Law

  • Kim Pouncey at TopShelf is absolutely the best alcoholic beverage trainer in Tennessee.

    Will Cheek, Attorney at Law

  • Unlike other programs we have used, everything we need is there. That’s why they call it TopShelf.

    Patrick, Board Member Prevention Alliance of TN and Executive Director, Community Prevention Coalition of Jackson Co.

  • I'm pleased to inform you that I have passed both the exams and I really appreciate you from the bottom of my heart for your help. I will refer your business to all my friends.

    Amin, Liquor store owner

  • I appreciate your integrity across the board. You have made a very difficult time almost enjoyable.

    Chris Brooks, Kroger Director

  • I am not computer literate but using the TopShelf site is actually fun and easy!

    Brenda, Kroger Manager

  • The site is easy to use and it’s kind of exciting and fun! I love the website and the programs. The User Guide is right on point and very helpful.

    Brian, Walmart manager

  • I took your RWV course and loved it. I am going to make all of my employees take it now, even if their permit isn’t expired. I don't want my new employees knowing more than my older employees.

    Joe, Liquor store owner

About Us

Our mission is to provide expert alcohol training and compliance solutions that enable businesses to stay within the law and help make communities safer. By offering engaging courses, reliable permit management systems, and exceptional customer service, we strive to help our clients reduce the risk of illegal alcohol sales and permit violations.

To achieve our goals, we developed an approach to doing business that we’ve stuck with for the last 20 years. We’ve built our brand on these principles. They guide our decisions and inspire our solutions:


Deliver excellence

We believe in producing the best training products possible. They combine our subject matter expertise with current research on state alcohol laws and regulations. We apply the best practices in e-learning to create online courses that are engaging and easy to use. For classroom training, we partner with a network of certified, experienced, and energetic instructors. We provide them with a program that is up to date and relevant to the student that results in a more fun and interesting class experience.

Build confidence

We believe that training products should be confidence builders. We pack our programs with state-specific alcohol laws, real-life scenarios and concrete examples. Course lessons are structured to help students remember what they learn and apply it to on-the-job situations. When employees are confident and knowledgeable, they make better decisions and develop more effective policies and procedures.

Find solutions

Off-the-shelf training and compliance solutions work perfectly for many companies, but some businesses need different options. We believe in designing products and services that work for both.

Our standard courses and compliance management tools have been top sellers for two decades. For companies that need custom solutions, options range from being able to include your company policy in training courses to generating tailored compliance reports. We work with clients to define their needs, assess alternatives, and identify and implement the best solution for their situation.

Keep learning

We believe in continuing our own education by listening to and understanding the challenges faced by business owners, communities, local coalitions, law enforcement and alcohol boards. Our team members serve on nonprofit advisory boards, attend regulatory and legislative sessions, meet regularly with law enforcement and community leaders, and are active in restaurant and grocery trade associations.

A few of our customers are

On Premise:

  • Ruby Tuesday, Inc.
  • Darden Restaurants
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • Brinker International Restaurants
  • Logan’s Roadhouse

Off Premise:

  • Kroger
  • Rocky Top Markets (Dunne Manning)
  • Whole Foods
  • Costco
  • Earth Fare
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart
  • Aldi
  • Trader Joe’s


  • L'École Culinaire (Culinary School and Restaurant)

Anti-Drug Coalitions and projects:

  • ASAP of Anderson County (Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention)
  • Metropolitan Drug Commission
  • SAPAT of Blount County (Substance Abuse Prevention Action Team)
  • PAT - Prevention Alliance of TN
  • Policy Boards on Underage Drinking

Our Beginning

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TopShelf’s home base is Tennessee. In the mid 1990s, a state law was passed that required anyone who served liquor-by-the drink to attend alcohol awareness classes in order to obtain a 5-Year Server Permit. At the time, Kim Pouncey was helping friends open a local restaurant in Knoxville. She became certified to teach alcohol awareness classes and began training the restaurant’s servers and bartenders. More than 100 students later, this was clear to Kim:
Servers (many of them college students or moms) had no time to go to the TABC office to apply for and pick up their permits.
Keeping up with server permits was time-consuming for managers.

The requirements for training and Server Permits were confusing so being the problem-solver that she is, Kim knew there had to be a better way. Her vision for TopShelf was to offer exceptional service to those that worked so hard to give exceptional service. She would start with a permit pick-up service for servers and bartenders. Kim picked up permits, supplied a copy to the restaurant and mailed the rest to the student. She saved valuable time for over 20,000 servers.

Next, Kim tackled the problem of managing employee permits. For businesses, it’s a time-consuming but essential task. Kim developed a reliable compliance-tracking system to help managers ensure that everyone was permitted. Within the first year, companies from small restaurants to large chains such as Ruby Tuesday, Chili’s, Olive Garden and others were using the TopShelf compliance system to protect themselves from legal risk.

In 2004, TopShelf expanded to alcohol awareness education. Kim recognized the need for updated and more relevant instructional material. She and Melinda Wolfe set out to develop the first TopShelf Responsible Beverage Service training program. With over 40 years of combined experience in the hospitality industry, they spent a year researching content and designing lessons. The program was certified by the TABC in December 2004 and quickly adopted by businesses across the state. Since then, more than 125,000 alcohol servers and sellers have successfully completed TopShelf programs. Hundreds of restaurants, retail food stores, liquor stores, airports and other businesses count on TopShelf for their alcohol awareness and certification training.

Where We’re Going Next

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Kim Pouncey and Mark Church-Janes became business partners in 2015. It’s been a busy two years for TopShelf. Our expanded product line includes specialized online programs and customized compliance reports. We hold our e-learning programs to rigorous standards for instructional design, student assessments, visual impact, clarity of message and technical functionality. The TopShelf team is one of the most professional, knowledgeable and creative around. Each one of us has a specialty and passion, making TopShelf a wonderfully well-rounded program.

We’re ready to be your "go to" resource for alcohol training and compliance solutions. Whether you’re a manager, policy maker, risk officer, corporate licensing specialist or business owner, we can help you stay compliant with the law and make communities safer.