bartending job search

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 In order to better understand this article, I’ll give you a brief accounting of my employment background.  Six years of bar management, bartending award winner, professionally trained, 2 million dollars of alcohol sales to span a 14 year career.

  I am one of those bartenders, that once I find a venue, which I’m comfortable in, I stay.  My length of employment, throughout my career averages at least 5 years.  The last bar I worked, I stayed for 7 years.  (There are periods, in which I’ll take a temporary or on call job, while still staying with my primary employer.)  Then one day, the owner tells me, he’s decided to close the bar.  His reasoning was partially a conflict of interest with his religious beliefs, and partially due to burnout.  (I don’t understand how someone can suffer from burnout, and only work, 3 hours a day. )  But 2 months later, I found my self unemployed.

  I needed a break anyways, and my wife is doing well in her career, so I wasn’t concerned.  I took a conscious decision, to take my time finding a new employer.  A venue that would be fitting of an award winning bartender.  What surprised me, was how long this job search would take.  I sent out over 160 resumes.  I was called for less than 10 interviews, and then finally found my new venue.  This was a period of over 3 months.  My resume is impressive; I had several prospective employers tell me personally. So what’s the deal??  I’ve narrowed it to a number of possibilities, which I wish to share

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                1.    Age:  I’m 49, and I understand that in some venues, that would be too old.  But not in the ones I was applying.

 

2.       Gender:  Male.  I remember when I was going through BartendingSchool.  This was in the aftermath of the movie “Cocktail.”  The one with Tom Cruise, this made bar owners everywhere, want flair bartenders.  In this day of age, we are in the aftermath of “Coyote Ugly” and now everyone wants cute young girls.  Note to bar owners and managers of the world:  If you are hiring based on gender, you will never find long-term business success.  The success, you find will be short term, until the competition, takes you out.  Either that or the cute little blonde bartender steals you blind.  Hiring should be based on a combination of experience and drink mixing ability.  Not bra size.

 

3.        Personality assessment tests.  My wife is a manager in a corporate restaurant.  She is a strong supporter of this testing.  She says excuses like,  “The test accurately judge how a person acts in a situation.”  Maybe in a corporation, maybe in a retail environment, but not bartending.  I have yet to see a personality test question which reads……Female customers, who show their breasts should be immediately cut off…….True or False or

Serving double jager and red-bulls, as a drink special, will increase the possibilities of bar fights…..Strongly disagree/disagree/neither/agree/Strongly agree.   Let’s be honest, like everything else in the world, personality assessment tests are all about money.  It’s a cheaper way to trim the hiring pool.  Managers have to spend less time, evaluating prospective employees.  Which gives them more time to flirt with the cute little blonde, they hired last week. 

 

 Eventually, I found the new job.  A venue worthy of my talents, I’m now in a fancy hotel.  More about that to come later.

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drink specials

  I have been wondering, when and if I will ever run out of subject matter, to write about in these articles.  Just when I think that I might, something new comes out of the horizon.  Today, it’s drink specials.  When did it become a bar’s obligation, to run a drink special everyday?   When did it become necessary for a bar to run a drink special during peak times?  It’s become a necessary evil, in order to keep up with the competition.  The next time, my auto mechanic, gives me a bill, I’m gonna ask, “ Don’t you have any specials?” Lets see how hard he laughs.  Yet, in the bar world, many employees and customers, believe that if you don’t have drink specials, you won’t survive.
  Let’s set some ground rules, make things clear.  Drink specials originated with happy hours.  Use drink prices, as a draw, a way to bring people in, when there is usually nothing happening in the bar.  This line of thought should be remembered, for drink specials as a whole.  Drink specials should be used as a draw, when nothing else is going on.  It’s always surprising to me, when a new dj/karaoke/band comes in, and they ask, “When I’m playing, “What kind of drink specials are you running?  Because I need the drink specials to bring people in.”  WAIT!!! Stop right thereYou shouldn’t need drink specials, to bring people in, isn’t that why you’re getting paid? To bring people in.  In a real world, when costs are higher, overhead increases, so does the price of the product being sold.  On a night, when a bar brings in a band/disc jockey/karaoke, when a bouncer/doorman is needed, shouldn’t a bar charge more??  Cover charges usually will help with the extra expenses, but usually won’t be sufficient to cover the entire increased overhead.  And yet, there’s an expectation of drink specials?
  So what does a smart bar owner/manager do? 
1.  Never run drink specials on pitchers of domestic/imported draw beer.
     There was a day, when a bar, made most of it’s profit from draw beer.   Not today.  Today, a bar makes it’s profit from the well.  If you want to run a special on pitchers of beer, make it one brand of beer.  Either the lowest cost beer or the slowest seller.
2.  Never run a special, on what already sells.
     In Kansas City, a bar that runs out of/doesn’t sell Bud Light/Budweiser/Miller Lite in bottles and draw, won’t survive.  When ordering, these are the ones, that you can’t run out of.  They are vital to sales.  Being that they are that vital, don’t run them on special!  The same holds true with alcohol.  Crown Royal and Jack Daniels, sell without being discounted, so why run them on special??
3.  During peak hours, at peak times, drink specials should be based on shots. 
  You have the extra expense of entertainment, security, etc.  You need to increase the cash flow, not decrease the profit.  Shots are gone in 2 seconds, and in the meantime, you’re still selling the Jack/Coke and the Bud Light bottles.
4. Base specials on one specific item, preferably a slow mover
  All bars have that one bottle, its been sitting on the shelf for a year. It’s not making you any money sitting there…..Sell it.  You might come up with a new and original cocktail.

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bald bartender

About the bald bartender:  An award winning bartender, based in South Kansas City MO.  His original creations, have resulted in over 2 million dollars in alcohol sales over a 12 year span.

RTD (Ready-To-Drink Cocktails) in the Bar Environment                                                         Bud-Light-Lime-A-Rita-570x325

For a period of 3 years,  I operated a website domain, (thebaldbartender.com) , during this time I would write articles about all things related to bartending.  One of which is copied below:

I worry for my beloved profession, and it’s future.  Understand, this is my chosen career.  I was professionally educated, and properly trained to be a bartender.  This isn’t something I fell into, something that I’m doing until I get my degree, or get married, or until something better comes along.  This is it! 

  At one point, I can remember, mixing for a high ranking member of the Applebee’s corporate team.  At the time, I was working in a hotel, and at that time, their corporate offices, were 2 miles away.  I was frustrated, because I had just gone through a period of unemployment, and had applied at every Applebees within a 50 mile radius, of my home. 
At each one I was given the company line….”Educated or not, it is our corporate policy, not to hire bartenders.  We hire only for servers, and you must wait tables for 2 years, before we can put you behind the bar.”  I didn’t spend that kind of money, on school, to wait tables.  When I asked him about this policy, he stated “I can teach anyone to be a bartender, but you can’t teach good service.”

STOP AND THINK ABOUT THAT STATEMENT FOR A SECOND.  (PAUSE).

And no, I didn’t lose my subject matter. RTDs, bear with me.

That statement isn’t well thought out.  Proper training teaches both.  But this same general attitude, of anyone can work a bar, is the same reason, you can’t go into your local bar, these days, and order a properly made Manhattan, or Stinger. Its this same attitude that have helped RTD’s find their way into the bar market.  RTDs, in the bar world, are cocktails, that are ordered by customers, who in the past, have been burnt by bad drinks, coming from improperly educated and trained bartenders.  These are people, who don’t drink beer, but don’t trust the bartender, to mix something yummy.  Either that, or they just turned 21, and are uncomfortable, ordering and so they chose a familiar taste.

I’d kinda forgotten about the article until recently  I took my wife, to dinner in a little hole in the wall bar and grill.  I heard a lady, order a margarita.  To which the waitress replied, ” The bartender doesn’t know how to make a margarita.  But we do have those Bud Light Margaritas”

I walked from the dining area, into the bar area.  What I seen was a cute girl tending bar.  Obviously hired for her looks, not skill.

To the bar owners of the world:  If your staff can’t  mix a margarita……fire them.  If you are hiring based on gender and looks,  ( a lot do), good luck finding financial success.    Like it says above:    I worry for my beloved profession, and it’s future.

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