Managing the Bar

For the average restaurant, liquor sales can contribute as much as 30% of total revenue, and even more for some establishments. Nearly a quarter of most restaurants’ liquor inventory is lost due to many different issues, both accidental and malicious in nature. To avoid these losses in the section of the restaurant that could potentially be very profitable, the bar should be managed just as carefully as every other part of the restaurant. This includes more careful inventory management and closer observation of bartenders and other employees.

Inventory Control

The first line of defense against both accidental and deliberate misplacement of liquor is to keep the inventory locked up so that only management can access it. Obviously this does not work for bottles behind the bar, but the unopened bottles in inventory represent a much larger investment than what is on display in the bar anyway.

No matter how trusted the bar tenders and other employees are, the smartest, safest thing is to protect that large of an investment with a lock. Since a manager would have to unlock it, it will be easier to keep track of what is being removed, as well as when and by whom it was taken.

Management should also keep very careful records of the use of all alcohol in the restaurant. This includes not only how much is used, but how it is used and when. This can be accomplished by comparing recipes and sales data with liquor inventory data.

Unfortunately, this can be a very tedious and time consuming process and it really should be done weekly, or at least monthly. However, there are companies that can be contracted to come in and complete these checks using their own software with the restaurant’s information. In doing this, managers can see if alcohol is missing, or even if drink recipes are not being followed.

Also, the task of ordering liquor should be left to management as well. For some reason, many bar tenders are left to handle the alcohol from the moment of ordering it from the supplier to when they place a drink in the customer’s hand and receive payment. Often, inexperienced bar tenders may find themselves ordering inventory and simply order too much for fear of running out of something on their watch.

Certainly the bar tender may have information that would be useful in the ordering process, so have them help create a checklist for ordering new inventory, but have management make the final decision.

Train, and Keep Training

New bar tenders are usually trained extensively so that they can learn general bar tending practices and the restaurant’s drink recipes. After that, bar tenders do not seem to receive much more instruction. However, training for bar tenders should not end once they have the recipes memorized. They should be tested every once in a while to make sure they are making drinks correctly.

For instance, very few experienced bar tenders actually measure their ingredients while making a drink, which is fine as long as what they are pouring is accurate according to the recipe. If not, they may need to go back to using a jigger to measure the alcohol until they can estimate their ingredients accurately.

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