Expert Advice on Hospitality Topics

A Successful Bar Begins With a Quality Staff

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Mon, Jun, 20, 2011 @ 10:06 AM

By Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing

Part 2: Do Bartenders Create Regulars?

bartenderA bar business is not, as many people think, a service industry. Of course, it's part service industry, but it's also very important not to forget that it's also an entertainment industry. Do your bartenders entertain your customers while they are serving them?


  • Every customer is an asset to your business. Just as you wouldn't throw chairs and tables away after one use, so too should you do everything in your power to make sure that every customer comes back again and again. Your staff must know that this is your goal. They must realize that they're the front-line weapons in the battle for customer retention.
  • Customer needs. Every staff member, from host to bartender to manager, should be able to handle any customer's needs. If a hostess walks past a table that obviously needs clearing without lifting a finger, how do you think that will leave those customers feeling about the service standard in your bar?
  • People seated at the bar. They should be treated like old friends by your bar staff, at least when they first sit down. But just as it's important to engage customers in conversation when they're happy to talk, it's also important to leave them alone when they don't. A good bartender reads the client's mood.
  • Flair bartending is all the rage. Bartenders who consider their job to be more than a temporary source of income see themselves as the next Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail. While putting on a show for the customers is a great way to entertain them, putting on a bad show is not. If your staff want to sling bottles and glasses around the bar in style, make sure they work within their limitations and save the practicing for after-hours.
  • Staff incentives. Some bar operators give incentives to their bar staff to stay around after their shifts and get to know the customers. Discounted drinks and food are not only a relatively cost-effective way to have your staff spend their free time at work, but these methods also help convince them to bring their own friends and turn your bar into their regular watering hole.



This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Bar & Beverage Operation, authored by Chris Parry, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company

Topics: Bar staff, alcohol, Bar trends, NightClub Management, Bar Management, Nightclub trends, opening a bar, hospitality jobs, liquor

Managing a Bar: Drinking On The Job: Dont Do It!!!

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Thu, Jun, 02, 2011 @ 16:06 PM

by Bob Johnson

Part 3NoDrinking andDriving

Charley is on my mind everyday.  He was a bartender who worked at a place where I was a regular customer. Charley was allowed, and encouraged, to drink with the customers.  He was my friend and I did everything I could to get him to stop drinking at work.  “It doesn’t matter what they allow you to do, Charley, stop the drinking!” I would say.   “You shouldn’t have to be told.  Professional bartenders don’t drink while working—ever!”  

Professional managers don’t drink while working either.  But if the managers are drinking, don’t you think every staff member is drinking?  Of course they are. 

Managers set the tone.  Managers lead by example. Charley had quite a bit of Patron one night, and then mixed it with a few Jagerbombs.  He didn’t make it home that night—nor did the family of four he crashed into on their way to early morning mass.  He fell asleep at the wheel from the drinking and crossed over the center line.  The case is pending, but a massive lawsuit has been brought against the owner, investors and managers of the club where Charley worked.  You see, the owner and managers encouraged their people to drink while working.  It’s good for business, they rationalized. 

And Charley?  He survived the crash (the drinker usually does).  But his life is over.  Charley has to be sedated everyday to stop the crying.  He can’t eat.  He can’t do anything.  He was once a really good guy, but today he can’t live with himself for what he did to those innocent people on their way to church. They’re gone.So go ahead bartenders, managers, servers, security persons,  keep drinking at your place of work.  It’s not your investment or your liability.  Somebody else owns the club, so what do you care?!  

Yeah!  Party down!  Continue to show the ultimate disrespect to your owner.  Do something for him that could possibly bankrupt his entire investment and land him in jail. Go get yourself another shot of Patron, Mr. Manager!  Do a shot with your bartender!  Yeah!  Follow it up with a Jagerbomb or two!  Yeah!  You’re the life of the part now, aren’t you? 

I wish you knew my friend Charley. 

Topics: Bar staff, Bar Management, hospitality jobs, bar control


Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Mon, Apr, 11, 2011 @ 14:04 PM

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“There Is a World of Difference Between ‘Running’ a Bar and ‘Managing’ a Bar.”

Part 1:

Many people get into the bar business thinking they are going to be great owners/ managers and will naturally be good at this line of work.

Unfortunately, in many cases, their egos will prevent this from happening. If only these people would just set their egos aside
and say, “I’m obviously a very talented individual. I could become good at owning or managing a bar, but I have to be willing to learn. I have to be willing to open my mind to the possibility that I’m wrong and to listen to other people—especially the qualified professionals.” To paraphrase from an article written by professional poker player Annie Duke, in USA Today: Commenting on why CEO’s make lousy poker players, she says, “Their egos get in the way.”

Well, most owners/managers of bars make lousy operators (and poker players) for the same reason. This is a tough realization for someone to accept, particularly someone who has risen to the top in another profession. “Don’t tell me what to do! After all, I’ve been in business for 27 years!” or, “Running a bar is not rocket science—anyone can do it!” or, “Hey, I own this joint! Who are you?!”

Well, I’m here to tell you that there is a world of difference between “running a bar” and “managing a bar.” Anyone can own or run a bar, but very few can correctly operate and manage one. Don’t kid yourself—you don’t just walk in, take over, and start
telling staff what to do. You have to know what you’re talking about. Just because you may have been successful in another business does not mean you will be successful in the bar business.

If you think owning or managing a bar is easy, continue reading. Bar management skills are learned, not inherited. I think you’ll eventually come to the profound realization that you really have to know what you’re doing. Making too many mistakes because you don’t know what you’re doing could possibly put you in jail, out of a job, and out of a lot of money.

Before anyone decides to buy a bar or take a step up to management, I suggest you put your ego aside and read the following pages about what it takes to be successful in the bar business. Trust me—this is a difficult business, and it’s not for everyone. 

Bar manager is a skill position that requires years of careful
observation, studying, experience, and know-how; yet, its importance has long been underestimated by owners in the hospitality industry. Even hospitality management schools place little importance on the subject of bar management, often making it an elective rather than a requirement for students graduating with what is considered food and beverage proficiency. Their definition of proficiency typically centers on knowledge of wine—which is nice, but has little to do with a nightclub or bar.

Before a head bartender or an entry-level manager accepts the job of bar manager, they should have a complete understanding of what the job entails. And, yes, bar managers should be former
bartenders. An in-depth knowledge of professional bartending is the starting point from which one learns bar management. It’s hard to be a truly effective bar manager unless you have a complete understanding of how to tend bar. “The gift of gab,
the casualness, and the caring, friendly service a bar manager gives to his customers comes from a bartending background,” says Bob Schwenker, former General Manager of Hooligan’s Pub in Miami, Florida. “A good bar manager has the ability to
make people feel comfortable. You shouldn’t make
the progression to bar manager without being a
bartender first.”

Topics: bar business, Bar Management, hospitality jobs