Here I go again, talking about training. It must make owners crazy this writer constantly nagging about more training, more training, and more training. Of course my favorite training topic is the pre-shift meeting. I really enjoy talking about those and used to really enjoy hosting them. And, I guess I would let up on the training topic if it were not so apparent that everyone needs to be trained more.
While thinking about training and being an eat-at-the-bar-guy I thought about the times I ever trained my bartender to wait on customers at the bar. The picture was dismal.
Just last Sunday I stopped into a recently opened Barbeque restaurant in Glenn Ellen,
The difference between the first visit to the Glenn Ellen spot and the second is the premise that training a bartender in food service is as important as it is teach him how to create a martini.
The chap was likeable enough, and although seemingly in the weeds, it was due to a lack of training, not a lack of competence.
He forgot that salad is delivered before the meal, not during; he didn’t enter the wrong order, nut certainly delivered the wrong one, and when it was pointed out to him that he ha made a mistake, he took it back to the kitchen, took the wrong portions of the entree off the plate and redelivered a half empty plate.
I know that the culinary Gods are not playing favorites with me and misdirecting servers and bartenders to purposely perfect these tricks in order to offer fodder for food columnists. I know that the industry is suffering as a whole with the lack of professionals who are begging for training.
I was a bartender and seldom did anyone teach me anything about service on the floor. However, I did pay attention and eventually knew I was not cut out for it. I also know that the chap that waited on me last Sunday night didn’t want to foul up the evening. He didn’t know any better on how to deal with a crowd. He cracked.
And, if he would have had the adequate training, he might have been able to handle the situation, better.
Here are a few random thoughts on training that may help you make please the eat-at-the-bar-crowd.
1). Let your bartender know, during the initial hiring process that you serve food at the bar. Some bartenders DO NOT EVER WANT TO SERVE FOOD.
2). Make sure the bartender understands hat he is responsible for the food at the bar.
3). Devise a system that allows the bartender to take the order, put down the place setting, and defines the bartender’s role. Does he deliver the food, clear the plates; get the salt, pepper and condiments? These all seem to be clear cu questions but unless they are defined and a system is in place nobody will assume anything.
4). Brief the bartender in basic serving principles.
5). Include the bartender in pre-shift menu meetings.
6). Do not treat the bartender just as a guy who serves. Many bartenders have a devil may care attitude. Inspire them to become servers while serving food.
7). Take them to a bar that has professional bartenders who serve food and have them watch the procedures that make the difference between a good bartender and a disaster.
8). Remind them that personality is only one ingredient in a good drink. If a Martini is awful or a steak too well done personality doesn’t matter.
9). If your room works on a shared tip policy, make an exception for the bartender. He should keep the tips he gets from food service. However, he should tip out the busser and the server that actually brings the food if he is not responsible for that.
10). Make sure that the bartender knows the menu, the specials, the ingredients and the portion size of every late that comes out of the kitchen. Even if he doesn’t serve food at the bar he should know about your principle products.