Successful Bar Operations: Lessons Learned - the Hard Way
By Chuck Kelley Partner, Cayuga Hospitality Consultants, LLC | February 09, 2020
First of all there is definitely an art to operating a successful bar and in my opinion more art than science. The science is the price of entry. You must have the right space, the right atmosphere, the right glassware, the right product and the right service standards. You also need a management team that provides diligent oversight, keeps the bar well stocked, controls the inventory, manages the financial side of the business and maintains a secure environment for both staff and customers.
The art is in the interactions between the staff and the customers, staff that understands the customer, perceives the expectations rather than waiting to be asked, staff that delivers on the expectations naturally and staff that doesn't need management intervention to do the right thing. There is also an art to packaging the product, service and atmosphere in a way that draws customers to the venue.
Let me provide two examples to illustrate my point.
Policy vs. Practical – Meet Gus
Back in the day, when I was a first time Restaurant & Lounge Manager, fresh faced and full of support for the "corporate way" despite real world realities, I learned a lesson about policy vs. practical.
My responsibilities included a quaint little Tavern at this airport hotel – a horseshoe bar with approximately 75 seats. Thanks to Gus the bartender the Tavern had its own personality, was always busy from Noon to Midnight and had great top line revenues and a healthy department profit. The Tavern had a strong local clientele who were regulars because Gus was there, they were known and the Tavern was comfortable and friendly. The hotel guests, mostly single business travelers sensed there was something special about the Tavern and joined the party. What could possibly be wrong??