The Bar and Restaurant Life and Times Blog will contain reviews of restaurant establishments, tutorials for bar managers, employees and owners, funny stories and pictures related to the food and beverage industry and an entertaining informative look at an industry not going away anytime soon.
This is the beginning of what will be a great reference for anyone in the bar business or is interested in working for a bar, restaurant or night club. With posts from a network of outstanding employees with decades of experience working at hundreds of establishments making a living as managers, owners, bartenders, disc jockeys, chefs, security, servers, and doing whatever it takes to ensure great service wherever they worked.
I wish there was a reference like this when I began my career as a manager after a decade of serving, cooking, bartending and anything that was asked of me for fine dining establishments, night clubs, local dive bars, Mexican dining, Hotel bars and restaurants, college bars and sports bars while in High School, College, as a working adult and even a part time job cooking with two experienced chefs while in the Navy.
I’d say I got a pretty good education before I began managing a very busy college bar and was able to put everything I had learned through prior experience while continuing to learn something new every day as my responsibilities continued to increase as I was promoted from Kitchen Manager to Bar Manager to Assistant General Manager in a fairly short period of time. Within two and a half years I was promoted to General Manager of a night club and the college bar and ended up working for that company for a little over four years.
Running a night club and college bar helped me when I managed a Sports Bar as I could implement fun night time activities, events and celebrations while getting back to a fast paced environment of food service which the bar and club only experienced during local football and basketball games and two holidays in which I put together menus for Mardi Gras and Saint Patrick’s Day. Even with the NFL Sunday Ticket and the events I mentioned food sales were never higher than 15-20% of total sales. The Sports Bar had to do at least 40% as stipulated by their liquor license. Without cheating as many establishments in AZ have done to ensure meeting that requirement we typically had no problems selling the amount of food we were supposed to. I will get into liquor licenses available in Arizona in another post.
After the Sports Bar I managed another establishment that is what I would call a tourist location. This means we don’t really rely on regulars as each day brings thousands more people to the area. The location was on the Chase Field Plaza (B.O.B.) where the Diamondbacks play. We had a bar license (#6) after one year with a restaurant license (#12) but would do $5,000 in food sales during the three hours prior to a game and probably could have done enough food sales for the less expensive 12 license but it was nice not to have to worry about that. We did outrageous sales opening day and when the Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs and MLB All Star Game where in town. The Diamondbacks’ playoff runs of ’07 and 2011 were also very high sales. This place was tough to manage properly as we were only open during events at the stadium which led to working 12-18 hour days sometimes 10 days in a row. Ordering, receiving, inventory, scheduling, helping out the kitchen, jumping behind a bar, expediting and running food took up most of our days and when we did try to throw a party or schedule an event we really didn’t see a difference in sales as downtown was not somewhere people came to at night it was where they left with the help of the Phoenix Police closing roads and making everything one way out of the area. Skills required for a place like this is being able to do many things at once, staying calm, working quickly and trying to fix problems before they happen. To this day I probably know how to fix kitchen equipment, bar equipment, the TVs, sound system and set up the bar or kitchen to succeed as good if not better than anyone who has worked there. I always felt it was important to take care of those things like maintenance on my own or without paying someone when possible and was taught how to do ordering and prepping properly without running out of items.
I spent another 2 years managing the same Sports Bar after 5 years off but sometimes things don’t work out and left once again. I did save the bar about $400 weekly by replacing high cost DJs with DJs I could train and pay about 1/4 of what we used to. I also supplied an Ipod and thousands of songs on disc with playlists for happy hour and night time music when no DJ was working. The guests liked it and it saved a considerable amount of money. I have been DJing on and off for years, have extensive knowledge of all genres of music and keep up to date with the newest top-40 songs and always here compliments about my voice on the microphone.
I took a job as a kitchen manager in a very busy restaurant outside of Jobing Arena and put skills I haven’t used in years to work. Within a few months we got our costs right, ticket times way down, and were thanked often by the staff and other managers.
I decided to go back to school at this time and make a living doing something else. I returned to the bar on the plaza but just as a DJ and graphic designer while I attended school full time. Two seasons later the Diamondbacks did not renew our lease and by the time this baseball season starts I will only have a couple of months until I graduate with a B.S. in Multimedia Web Design and Development and probably not return to the bar business until I invest in one as an owner.
Web and graphic design specializing in the restaurant industry