Managing a bar for the first time

Does the owner or any other staff have industry experience?

I'll level with you, unless this a very small, very low volume venue you are in over your head. Your best move is to 86 this whole plan.

I bartended for 13 years before I took my first bar manager position at a large venue. After doing that for a few years I'm opening my first venue with inexperienced owners. I also have a degree with a project management focus. Needless to say I have a ton of experience, and there are still times that I feel overwhelmed and under qualified. Even simply bartending without any prior industry experience is extremely tough. Knowing how to technically build drinks is just a small portion of the job, guest management and efficiency are so much more important. After all my years in the industry I will always hire a volume bartender with no craft experience over a home craft bartender. I can teach someone how to make craft cocktails way easier than I can teach someone how to actually work as a bartender.

I could write an entire book on "tips" that you need to know. When making your recipes you can't just consider making a good drink. The first thing you need to do is determine the tastes of your target and anticipated clientele and build a menu of cocktails that they would buy, not just cocktails that you like. Then you have to estimate expected volume so you can determine the max number of touches and time required for each build, how to efficiently set your well, if you have space in the service box for all the parts of your drink, pre-shift prep time, etc. You have to determine if your recipe is cost effective by calculating liquor and possible waste costs. This is huge, the craft cocktails that people build at home have very high pour costs, and if you and the owner ok drinks with high pour costs you're going to have to make sure to find other ways to make up those poor margins. I target my pour costs at 15-20%, but this is highly dependent on your specific venue and the business plan/forecasts, so ask the owner for that information. You have to find out what there are shortages of and if availability can keep up with your volume (a LOT of shortages in the past couple years).

Consult with someone experienced on bar staff training, because as I mentioned, building drinks is only a small portion of the job. You can't have a bartender and wait staff whose only operations knowledge is building drinks. Remember you can't just teach them how to make a drink, you have to teach them how to efficiently make multiple drinks at once while simultaneously managing guests.

Efficiency. Cater to your market. More efficiency. Closely watch costs. And most importantly, consider building your career the sustainable way and taking the steps that will make you a truly good manager. Get a bartending job first, learn how to be a bartender and then once you know how to bartend and know this industry, find a job managing one!

/r/bartenders Thread Parent