Expert Advice on Hospitality Topics

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

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Mon, May, 30, 2011 @ 11:05 AM

by Bob Johnson

Part 2Drinking on the Job

When you, Mr. Owner, hired a bartender or manager, did you include the consumption of beverage alcohol as part of the job?  Of course you didn’t.  So why would you allow it?   If a bartender or manager chooses to consume a bever age alcohol product for their personal consumption while working, they’re stealing from you!  It’s grounds for immediate termination.  It’s no different than working at Wal-Mart and helping yourself to a few DVDs or a pack of gum and not paying for it.  It’s called “shoplifting” and people go to jail for stealing company property. I have too many bartender friends who got into the habit of having a couple of drinks while working.  The customer buys the bartender a drink, and the bartender gladly accepts.  Now the bartender is up to “quite a few” every day.  Then the bar tender nds himself “having to have a few” on their days off.  Then they have to have several drinks a day just to “balance out.”  

This is called addiction. It’s called alcoholism, and they’ve got a problem they’re going to have to battle the rest of their life.  As the owner or general manager, are you encouraging these people to have drinks at work?  If so, you may be the one responsible for this person’s alcoholism.Alcohol is for the customer to consume, not the bartender or other staff members.  Bartenders simply prepare it and serve it—that’s it!  Why can’t bartenders or servers simply accept a non-alcoholic beverage, like a Red Bull, Frappuccino, cup of coffee, bottle of water, Coke, etc.?  Why does it have to be a drink containing beverage alcohol? Police don’t drink alcohol while working, bankers don’t drink alcohol while working, retail clerks don’t drink alcohol while working, emergency room personnel don’t drink alcohol while working, sports teams don’t drink alcoholwhile working, so why do bartenders and managers feel they’re entitled to consumealcohol while they’re working? It’s stupid, it’s unprofessional, it’s self-serving and in many states, it’s illegal (and  it should be illegal in all states).

Topics: Bar staff, Bar drinks, Bar Management, bar control

A Successful Bar Begins With a Quality Staff

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Thu, May, 26, 2011 @ 09:05 AM
By Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing

barstaff waiter icon button p145022448973410762t5sj 400

Part 1: Hiring the Best Possible Staff

Finding the Right People

A successful bar operation depends on people more than anything--the people coming into your bar and the people behind it. How you treat your staff, how you find them, how you train them and how they work are keys factor in hospitality success. Many bar managers find that one of the most difficult tasks in their job is finding the right people to join their staff. If you want the best possible employees (and you shouldn't want anything less), these rules might assist you in your search:

  • Headhunt. If you want simply to fill a handful of roster slots with physically able bodies, classified ads may be a fine option. Classified ads will certainly bring you applicants. However, the best hospitality people are generally not unemployed; they're already working for your competition. Take a look around the better local establish­ments. If you see someone worth headhunting, make him or her an offer.
  • Ask your existing staff. They can be a great source of new staff; they usually know plenty of industry colleagues that would be a nice fit in your bar, and though you don't want to form "cliques," a personal reference from someone you respect sure as heck beats a cattle call.
  • Offer a finder's fee.  If someone working for you brings in a new employee that stays with you past a probationary period, a $75 bonus will get your existing people thinking hard about staffing possibilities.
  • Keep applications on file! If someone walks in the door and asks for a job when none has been advertised, you can bet they already know and like your establishment and truly want to work there. Motivated souls such as these make prime pickings, so don't disregard their applications - keep them and get in touch when you need to.
  • Time is money. Don't waste too much of it by interviewing everyone who applies to you. If an applicant isn't to your initial liking, thank him or her for the application and move on to someone who is.
  • The need to earn. It's traditionally thought that the more stabilizing factors there are in a person's life, such as being a student, having a mortgage or being married with children, the less likely that person will be to leave suddenly or jeopardize his or her job through tardiness.
  • What are you looking for exactly? Different roles require different skills. While not every position requires abundant experience, every position does require a mix of stability, intelli­gence, personality, honesty and a willingness to work. If an inexperienced applicant shows these qualities, look past any lack of skills and make an investment in a quality human being with training.
  • Every employee is a reflection of your corporate personality. It's important that employees view every customer as a potential friend, not an irritation. Certain people can light up a room with a smile, and if you can find two or three of those people, your customers will be back.
  • Never interview an applicant who has just made his or her application. Let him or her show enthusiasm when you call about an interview at a later date. If the applicant can't make it or doesn't show up, you're better off without.
  • Ask the right questions. If you want to be sure you have all the information you require from each person, put together a list of questions in advance. This will allow you to get comfortable, focus on the answers and stay on target.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for a demonstration. If a prospective bartender has trouble uncorking a bottle of wine or mixing a good martini, it's better that you find out ahead of time.

How Do You Test for Honesty

Dishonest employees are not always going to make themselves obvious. Sometimes the person with the biggest smile has something even bigger to hide. When hiring your staff, how can you go about discovering who is to be trusted and who should be shown the doors?

  • Background check. This might seem a draconian tactic to determine if your potential employees are who they say they are. You can run a check on your prospective staff online through an outfit like US Search (, who will take the person's details and run a check on credentials for only $59.95 - $99.95 for a criminal background check. The results of these searches can, in most cases, be e-mailed to you within 24 hours, with full details taking up to seven days.
  • References. Thorough checking of all references is a must, especially for a person interviewing for a position of trust. Call every company listed on the employee's resume and be sure to ask the correct questions: Why did the person leave? How long was she there? What position did he hold? Would the company gladly take him back if given the opportunity?
  • Credit check. If prospective employees will be in a position where they're exposed to a large amount of money, it may be prudent to run a credit check before you employ them.
  • Sometimes the simplest approach is the best. Why not just ask potential employees if they've ever taken something that wasn't theirs? Watch their body language when you ask the question. Do they blush? Do they avert their eyes? Do they fidget? Do they nod their head, as they say "no"?





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, bar business, Bar Management, bar control

Receiving: Ensuring That You Get What You Pay For

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Tue, May, 24, 2011 @ 11:05 AM
Food PurchasingBy Douglas R. Brown
Atlantic Publishing


The goals of receiving are to ensure foods are fresh and JL safe when they enter your facility and you are receiving what you ordered and are paying for. Transfer items to proper storage as quickly as possible.

Let’s look more closely at two important parts of receiving:

  1. Getting ready to receive food.
  2. Inspecting the food when the delivery truck arrives.

Receiving Policy

Introduce a receiving policy. Remember, it's easy to "lose" products in this part of your operation. Let's say, for example, you have no one specifically assigned to check in orders. Normally one of your line cooks will do it. Let's also say that one day your order is late and arrives in the middle of lunch rush. No one can check the order for accuracy, so they just sign for it in a hurry. If this happens, it is virtually impossible to correct any mistakes at the time. Furthermore, if your line cooks don't get to put the order away until several hours later, you will lose product because it has sat out too long and is now unsafe to serve.

Receiving Tips

There are several important guidelines to keep in mind and tasks to complete as you get ready to receive food:

  • Calibration. Make sure all scales and thermometers are in place and calibrated.
  • Sanitary carts. Make sure your receiving area is equipped with sanitary carts for transporting goods.
  • Plan ahead for deliveries to ensure sufficient refriger­ator and freezer space.
  • Mark all items for storage with the date of arrival or the "use by" date.
  • Lighting. Keep the receiving area well lit and clean to discourage pests.
  • Remove empty containers and packing materials immediately to a separate trash area.
  • Keep all flooring clean of food particles and debris.
  • Delivery truck. When the delivery truck arrives, make sure it looks and smells clean and is equipped with the proper food-storage equipment. Then inspect foods immediately.
  • Check expiration dates of milk, eggs and other perishablegoods. Make sure shelf-life dates have not
  • Frozen foods. Make sure frozen foods are in airtight, moisture-proof wrappings.
  • Reject foods that have been thawed and refrozen. Look for signs of thawing and refreezing, such as large crystals, solid areas of ice or excessive ice in containers.
  • Rejecting canned goods. Reject cans that have any of the following: swollen sides or ends; flawed seals or seams; dents; or rust. Also reject any cans whose contents are foamy or smell bad.
  • Check the temperature of refrigerated and frozen foods, especially eggs and dairy products, fresh meat and fish and poultry products.
  • Look for content damage and insect infestations.
  • Rejecting dairy products. Reject dairy, bakery and other foods delivered in flats or crates that are dirty.
  • Weighing items. Meats, fish and most items ordered by the pound must be weighed and tagged. Food items purchased by count need to be checked and counted. All items received must be counted, weighed and date stamped. Don't deviate from this critical step.
  • Invoice accuracy. Check the accuracy of the invoice with regard to the purchase order, specifically price, damage, quality, quantity, brands, grades and variety. Items that are not correct need to be noted and returned before the driver leaves and the driver must sign the form. The vendor's invoice also should be checked against the actual purchase order.
  • Don't let delivery people into your storage areas.
  • Items packed in ice. These items need to be removed from the ice prior to weighing.
  • Check animal cavities in fish and poultry for ice.
  • Delivery personnel should be friendly, not rushed, and professional, but not too friendly.   Ensure they know that it doesn't matter if they are in a rush; you are going to check everything in and count and weigh everything prior to their leaving.
  • All food products must be date coded, rotated and put away immediately.
  • Placed in order. Products should be placed on the shelves in the same order as the inventory sheets and purchase order forms. This will help in inventory counting and control.
  • Determine which employees are allowed to access the storage areas. Storage areas are prime targets for theft. Not only employee theft, but if areas aren't kept locked and secure, outside people will be able to get in and help themselves to your products.
  • Garbage can liners. In the kitchen, consider using clear trash bag liners as another method to deter pilferage.
  • Keep your back door locked, well lit and on an alarm system. A small viewing panel or glass with a wire-enforced panel will enable the receiving employee to see who is at the back door.

Topics: food inventory, receiving inventory, food inventory control

Effective Inventory Control System is an Integral Part of Purchasing

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Wed, May, 18, 2011 @ 08:05 AM
Purchasing IdeasBy Douglas R. Brown
Atlantic Publishing

Part 3: Purchasing Ideas

There are many ways to curb cost. Here are a few ideas:

  • Inexpensive fish. Turn your customers on to seafood alternatives and lower your food cost. Consider using some alternatives such as Tilapia, farm-raised salmon, fresh-water perch, Alaskan halibut, mahi-mahi, shark or skate. Skate, for example, can be purchased wholesale right now online for $1.62 per pound. The secret, of course, is to make certain it is fresh.
  • Shelled eggs. Consider buying shelled eggs if your restaurant uses more than three cases of eggs per week. This will reduce the amount of cardboard and other packaging that must be disposed or recycled. Shelled eggs are often packaged in 5-gallon buckets that can later be reused for cleaning or maintenance.
  • Condiments. Use refillable condiment dispensers instead of individual condiment packets for dine-in customers.
  • Cost-Watch Web site. This site,, helps restaurant management control labor, utility and food and beverage costs. It also offers regional reports to compare expenses and food costs in similar restaurants as well as price trend forecasts. It is a great resource for purchasing managers.
  • Join a barter club. Bartering allows you to buy what you need and pay for it with otherwise unsold products, such as food and beverages or even catering services. Almost anything and everything can be purchased with barter services. Nationally, over 250,000 businesses are involved in barter. Check out these Web pages:
  • Similar ingredients. Include menu items that are essentially made with similar ingredients as others on the menu. For example, a shrimp cocktail and shrimp pasta are two very different meals, but the ingredients are similar. These ingredients are simple, inexpensive and don't take up a lot of storage space. Having five or six other pasta sauces to offer also loads up your menu with choices without excessively increasing your inventory. This will not only allow you to buy in bulk and keep costs down, but will also lighten the load on your kitchen staff.
  • Bread baskets. The potential for waste in bread baskets is large. Most of these come back from the table partially eaten at best. You may want to consider giving bread baskets only if requested or you may want to cut down on the amount served. You should also consider including packaged items since these can be reused. Some operators are now serving bread only by request or they are serving one roll or breadstick at a time from a breadbasket with tongs.
  • Substitute premade items. Substitute premade items for some items you have been making from scratch. You don't have to sacrifice quality to do this; many premade items are good. You can also start with a premade item and add ingredients. For instance, you can buy a premade salad dressing and add blue cheese or fresh herbs. Using these items will lower your food and labor costs, and you can still put out a quality item.


Topics: inventory managers, Hotel Inventory, Restaurant Inventory, food inventory, inventory schedule, inventory counting, purchasing, inventory control, Food control

Drinking On The Job: Dont Do It!!!

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Mon, May, 16, 2011 @ 10:05 AM

by Bob JohnsonDrinking at your bar


If you are an owner or general manager who allows your staff to consume beverage alcohol during the scope of their employment—i.e., “drinking on the job”—you ought to be taken outside and shot!  Okay, that may be an exaggeration.  But when you carefully examine this issue, allowing your staff to drink on the job is the ultimate act of stupidity,

irresponsibility, and disrespect for the welfare of your employees and your business.  Owners and managers must protect their business from potential lawsuits, and allowing your employees to drink while they work leaves you wide open.  You’re taking the chance of losing it all.  So why would anyone put themselves in this position?              

It may be common practice in many bars, nightclubs and adult nightclubs for bartenders, managers and entertainers to drink alcoholic beverages while on the job.  But as bar management expert Bob Johnson suggests, it could be the worst mistake these people could make — and could put you out of business up there with …duh-h-h-h-h-h.  Does the fate of your business really come down to how much the employees can slug away for you?

Ethyl alcohol affects judgment and impairs one’s ability to rationalize or perform a function that requires effective interpretation or quick reaction.  “Misreading” a situation is commonplace for anyone consuming beverage alcohol, regardless of the amount consumed.  Counting money, making a judgment call, responding to a pressure situation or settling a disturbance can only be done with a clear mind.  Beverage alcohol is not a “performance enhancer”!

Legally, if there are damages or injury to a third party and you were involved in the situation in any way—and it was known that you were under the influence of alcohol at the time—your company and you have no reasonable defense.  You just lost the case! You probably don’t have enough money to defend yourself in this kind of situation.

Medically, if there is injury to you while on the clock and you have consumed beverage alcohol in any quantity, worker ’s compensation will not pay for your medical treatment.  You’re on your own. Because you work in a heavily scrutinized industry, management and staff must never be under the influence of beverage alcohol when confronted by a representative of local law enforcement or a governmental agency performing a routine assignment that wants to ask questions.

Topics: Bar staff, NightClub Management, Bar Management

An Effective Inventory Control System is an Integral Part of the Purchasing Procedure

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Fri, May, 13, 2011 @ 11:05 AM
By Douglas R. Brown
Atlantic Publishing

Part 2: Perpetual Inventory

The perpetual inventory is a check on the daily usage of your main entree items from the freezers and walk-ins. This is for tracking expensive items, such as meat, seafood, chicken, cans of caviar, etc. When completed, the perpetual inventory will ensure that no bulk products have been pilfered from the freezer or walk- ins. Computer software programs and some POS systems will track this information for you. The following is an example of a Perpetual Order Form:

perpetual inventory resized 600

  • List all the food items that are listed on the Sign-out Sheet and Yield Form. In the "Size" column, list the unit size in which the item is packaged. The contents of most cases of food are packed in units such as 5-pound boxes or 2-pound bags. Meat is usually packed by the number of pieces in a case and the case's weight. The size listed on the perpetual inventory must correspond to the size the preparation cooks are signing out of the freezer and walk-ins.
  • In the "Item" column, enter the number of each item listed. For example, if shrimp is packed in 5-pound boxes and you have two 50-pound cases, there are 20 boxes. Enter 20 in the "Item" column. Each number along the top corresponds to each day of the month. At the end of each day, count all the items on hand and enter this figure on the "=" line. Compare this figure to the "Amount Ordered or Defrosted" column on the Preparation Sheet; these amounts must be the same as the total number of each item on the "-" line. If there were any deliveries, place this total on the "+" line.
  • Theft. Theft can occur when someone removes a box of shrimp from the case, for example. The person then reseals the case with the other boxes to hide the gap.
  • Check the invoices every day for the items delivered that are in your perpetual inventory. Ensure that all items signed off as being delivered are actually in the storage areas. Should there be a discrepancy, check with the employee that signed the invoice. The number of items you start with (20) plus the number you received in deliveries (5), minus the amount signed out by the preparation cooks (1), must equal the number on hand (24). If there is a discrepancy, you may have a thief.
  • What to do if you suspect theft. Should you suspect a theft in the restaurant, record the names of all employees who worked that particular day. If thefts continue to occur, a pattern may develop among the employees who were working on all the days in question. Compute the perpetual inventory or other controls you are having a problem with at different times of the day and before and after each shift. This will pinpoint the area and shift in which the theft is occurring. Sometimes, placing a notice to all employees that you are aware of a theft problem in the restaurant will resolve the problem. Make it clear that any employee caught stealing will be terminated.

Purchasing Kickbacks and Gifts

Unfortunately, the food service industry is notorious for kickbacks. It is even more unfortunate that these kickbacks or gifts are essentially paid for by you in the form of higher prices. Here are some ideas to help keep kickbacks out of your store:

  • Purchasing and receiving must be done by different employees. The person ordering should not be the same person receiving and checking the items.
  • Kickback policy. Develop a general policy and list it in your employee handbook that employees cannot receive anything for free from a vendor or potential vendor.
  • Change positions. People become complacent over time; move positions around.
  • Check on prices of expensive items like meat and seafood yourself.

Topics: inventory managers, Food Costs, food inventory, inventory counting, controling costs, inventory control, Food control

An Effective Inventory Control System is an Integral Part of the Purchasing Procedure

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Mon, May, 09, 2011 @ 10:05 AM
By Douglas R. Brown
Atlantic Publishing

Part 1: Inventory, Storage and Accounts Payablefood storage shelves

Ordering effectively is impossible unless you are completely familiar with the inventory items. Prior to orders being placed with vendors, counts of stock need to be established. Software programs are able to determine order quantities based upon par balances and sale figures; we highly recommend this implementation. Whether your ordering system is performed with a pencil and paper or by computer, its purpose is to:

  1. Provide reports of what is needed.
  2. Provide reports the specified products.
  3. Provide reports of vendors and contact information.
  4. Provide reports of prices.
  5. Provide a historical report of prices.
  6. Provide a method for the ease of order placement.

Keeps these critical points about inventory in mind:

  • Inventory amounts. The more you have in inventory, the harder it is to control.
  • Shelf life for perishables. Meat, produce and seafood will only last 2-3 days, so do not order too much of these products at a time.
  • Excessive inventory. It ties up your cash, hindering cash flow.
  • Extra food. Having extra food on hand tends to lead to over-portioning and is easier for theft.
  • Inventory turnover. Ideally, the entire food inventory should be turned every 5-8 days.
  • Vendors. Schedule vendor representatives visits so you are not interrupted.
  • Standing orders. Consider placing standing orders for regularly used items.
  • Consider using one "main vendor." If you receive most of your product from one vendor, you will spend much less time on purchasing, there will be fewer salespeople to deal with, there will be fewer deliveries each week and labor costs will be saved. You also will receive better service. As previously mentioned, most large vendors today have online ordering systems.
  • Check trade magazines and for rebates available from manufacturers.
  • Join a buying group such as the one at They have pre-negotiated man­ufacturer allowances available on over 10,000 food and food-related products from over 125 network suppliers from manufacturers like Sweetheart, Ecolab, Sara Lee and General Mills.
  • Warehouse buying clubs. Check out warehouse buying clubs such as Sam's Club,, Costco, and Restaurant Depot, www. restaurantdepot. com.
  • Cash discounts. Many purveyors provide cash discounts if payment is made early, such as "2/10, net 30." With this, a 2-percent discount may be taken if payment is made within 10 days. Cash discounts are worth taking; a restaurant that purchases $500,000 per year and takes a 2-percent discount will save $10,000.
  • Alternatives. Don't automatically use fresh fruit and vegetables if canned alternatives can be used without cutting back on meal quality. Canned tomatoes, artichoke hearts, chili peppers, pears, etc., can all be used in many meals without a big loss in flavor, and the trade off is a big drop in price and spoilage rates.

Topics: food inventory, Food Storage, Food control

Controlling Food Inventory to Generate Maximum Profits

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Thu, May, 05, 2011 @ 11:05 AM
Placing Food OrdersBy Douglas R. Brown
Atlantic Publishing

Part 6: Purchasing and Ordering--Procedures and Practices

Purchasing and Inventory Software

Purchasing and inventory software is readily available to restaurant operators. Many larger organizations are using inventory control software that saves a significant amount of time and money. Most managers are used to the monthly grind, standing in the walk-ins counting eggs, butter pats and frozen chickens. With inventory control software, managers can use a laser scanner, similar to the ones used in grocery stores, to scan bar codes. The software can also be linked to your distributors and you can place your orders electronically based on the inventory. 

  • Consider placing your orders online. Almost all distributors now have systems in place to order online. The advantages are numerous: it reduces ordering errors, it's convenient, there may be discounts, and most systems build a customer database based on what you have previously ordered making re-orders easy. A list of vendor Web sites follows:
  • Use written purchase orders (PO). A PO is a written authorization for a vendor to supply goods or services at a specified price over a specified time period. Acceptance of the PO constitutes a purchase contract and is legally binding on all parties. Utilizing POs will enable you to know what was ordered, the quantity, and the price. If you are using software to record the invoice and receipt of inventory, the program will restock and adjust pricing automatically. In addition, your perpetual inventory will be updated. Purchase orders from software programs can easily be faxed or e-mailed into the vendor, saving time and money.
  • When purchasing food, avoid more expensive name brands wherever possible. Of course, you want to make sure you're buying quality ingredients for your food, but are your customers really likely to tell the difference between a "name brand" and an "industrial brand"?
  • Local growers. Talk to local fresh-produce suppliers to see if you can't get fresher, cheaper, better-quality fresh produce direct from the grower. Why pay a supplier to get the fruit and vegetables that are shipped to their central warehouse, then shipped back to you, when you can just drive 10 minutes down the road and enjoy food right off the tree or vine? You can also use this as a promotional device. If you use local produce, let your customers know!
  • Cooperative purchasing. Many restaurants have formed cooperative purchasing groups to increase their purchasing power. The cooperatives purchase items that are commonly used by all food service operators. By joining together to place large orders, restaurants can usually get substantial price reductions. Some organizations even purchase their own trucks and warehouses and hire personnel to pick up deliveries. This can be advantageous for restaurants that are in the proximity of a major supplier or shipping center. Many items, such as produce, dairy products, seafood and meat, may be purchased this way. Chain restaurants have a centralized purchasing department and, often, large self-distribution centers.
  • Make sure you shop for purveyors. Don't rest once you've found one. Comparison shop on a continual basis.
  • Look at vendors' product labels for box strength. This will tell you where the product came from. Most manufacturers won't ship more than 100 miles away from their plants. The further away that a supplier is located, the more shipping will cost.
  • Consider planting your own herb and/or vegetable garden. Great food starts with using the freshest herbs and vegetables and the best way to do that is to grow them yourself! The techniques for growing your own are not difficult. With a little planning, you can build your own 24-hour supply of garden-fresh herbs. Even a small garden can infuse your kitchen with heavenly aromas and striking flavor. What a great way to lower your food cost and separate yourself from the competition! You can buy seeds online at:


Topics: Food Costs, profit, food inventory, purchasing