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Bar Etiquette for Staff

bar staff etiquette

Atmosphere creates half of the appeal for most bars and restaurants. It doesn’t matter how many draught beers you have on tap, how exclusive your signature cocktails may be, or from what mountain stream your fresh filet of salmon hails. Setting the right vibe will make or break your establishment, and the responsibility for doing so is always something which must be made Cristal-clear on your bar-staff job descriptions. 

Food and bev patrons will walk through the doors holding a variety of expectations depending on the identity of your bar. Whether it’s a sporty situation with a flatscreen in every corner, or a barbershop speakeasy offering salon-quality shaves before 5 o'clock, the attitude and performance your people bring to their service will help to meet those expectations and create an environment which guests are happy to return to time and time again. 

But regardless of the feel and level of formality at your bar or restaurant, there are a few golden rules of bar etiquette every establishment should follow if they want patrons to help staff help patrons feel adequately welcomed and cared for. Let’s dive in. 

Setting up a bar

Mise en place - or “everything in its place” – is lesson one in most culinary classrooms. It describes a clean and well-organized workspace that helps staff to do their jobs effectively, efficiently, and with safety and professionalism always at the front of their priorities. Here’s how to make it work. 

Organizing your work station

Chaotic creativity absolutely has its place in the world, but this is never on the bar or floor of a restaurant during open hours. Surfaces – especially the mixology counter – must be clean and free of clutter to ensure hygienic and timely service, as well as adequate space for every member of staff to do their jobs well. Guests can quickly form a negative opinion based on a crusty bar. 

Bar tools

If your bar tools are not in your hand or making their way to the dish pit, they should be in their own easily-accessible spot from open to close. Knowing where things are allows bartenders to fill guests orders quickly and with ease, unhindered by the extra minutes it might take to locate a misplaced muddler.

The other piece to this point is that sharp edges like those on knives and corkscrews can cause serious injury if you run into one in an unexpected place. But bar tools stored safely will help you to avoid any accidents and help service to run as smoothly as possible. 

Equipment use

Heavy and fast-paced service means bar equipment wears out faster than it might in a private kitchen. It’s critical to keep track of signs of age, breakages, odd equipment behavior, or low inventory so you can address it before it becomes a true problem. Doing so helps to make your life easier, as well as that of your coworkers, so that all of you together can provide your patrons with a better experience. 

Customer areas

Your customers want to know that their drinks are being poured in a clean and hygienic environment, and they would also like a clean and hygienic environment in which to enjoy them. Unless you’re a wood chip-floor revivalist kind of establishment, floors should be thoroughly swept and mopped, tables and seats kept clean and dry, broken glass and spillage addressed as soon as possible, and clutter kept to an absolute minimum. All these are important aspects of your bar’s overall safety protocol, as well as for the general appeal and comfort of your guests. 

Mood and ambiance setting

Consistent aesthetic choices, adequate on-theme lighting, and the right music at the right volume are all important aspects of a bar environment which let both new and long-time patrons know what they’re in for every time. 

Guide to guest interaction etiquette for bar staff

No matter what kind of establishment you’re running, bartenders and servers are on the frontline of customer experience, and the vibe they bring to the table is ultimately what will draw your guests in. 

Meeting customer expectations

Patrons at a high-class wine bar may be put off by a mixologist in a football jersey spitting sporty trivia at them the moment they walk through the door. And customers sitting down to a Budweiser to watch the game are unlikely to want a pairing recommendation for the house red. Service should always be professional, but the level of formality and the kinds of conversations staff may have with guests will be dictated by the overall identity of the bar. 

Staying patient

Communication is hard. And communication between a server and a patron in an establishment that serves alcohol can be extremely hard. Although you may be tempted, keeping a cool head and a kind and friendly tone is critical to providing good service. 

Professionalism and expertise

To allow you to make the best recommendations to your curious customers, your cocktail repertoire and knowledge of drinks should be as broad as possible. When a patron asks for your opinion, this is a great opportunity to build relationships and seriously impress your guests. Keeping track of what regulars like and don’t like can also help you create a mental map and help patrons to broaden their palate with new drinks you think they’ll like. 

Quick & clean service

Aim for speed in your service, but don’t rush at the expense of the quality of your product or the guest’s experience. Your goal should be to give as many customers as possible a quality encounter that makes a good impression. 

Don’t forget to maintain organization and cleanliness in the meantime: employing a clean-as-you-go philosophy will help you to maintain speedy service and keep your work area mess-free throughout the night. 

How Provi’s POS and inventory platform can help improve bar staff etiquette

Have you ever had to interrupt service because you ran out of your bar’s most popular tequila?

With Provi, days like this are a thing of the past, thanks to all-in-one ordering and inventory tracking that lets you restock your bar with the click of a button so you can get back to providing top-notch service to your favorite guests. 

See what else Provi has to offer your establishment here.

The Provi Team


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