How to Run a Restaurant & Bar

Responsible bar management entails knowing when not to serve the inebriated.
Responsible bar management entails knowing when not to serve the inebriated. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

From the outside looking in, running a successful restaurant and bar seems simple enough. Time after time when you dine out, you see things that you would do differently if you ran the place you are patronizing. However, running a restaurant and bar is harder than it looks, as it is a multi-faceted endeavor that often requires multiple attempts before one is ultimately successful. A sound, detailed plan is essential and hiring quality help to ensure good teamwork is a must.

Hire and train a quality staff that suits your restaurant's needs. Restaurant and bar experience and talent are important, but are not a deal-breaker. Employees should ultimately be the right fit for your establishment. For example, if a candidate has vast experience in large, corporate restaurants but seems wary of the smaller scale way in which you intend to run things, you may want keep searching. Also, each and every employee should be thoroughly trained and no one should be rushed.

Ensure that your restaurant and bar are in compliance with local ordinances and codes. Every employee should have current food and alcohol handling permits, for example. Also, it's good to be mindful of alcohol statutes, such as whether or not you can serve before noon on a Sunday or how late you can stay open on the weekends, all of which varies by state. Building and signage codes should be learned and adhered to as well.

Know your customer base, and communicate with them on a regular basis. Customer service surveys, incentive-laden frequent buyer clubs and good old fashioned working the floor and chatting with folks are a few ways to get started. It will inspire loyalty and you will also get feedback on how to better meet their needs.

Control your inventory by ordering only what you need. Excess stock, even if it will eventually be used, won't be as fresh and the money you spend on it could either be saved or spent for other needs.

Schedule employees efficiently to keep labor costs down. Don't over compensate, however, by getting too stingy with labor dollars and having a bad shift where customers' needs aren't met. No one wants to wait 20 minutes for a cocktail or appetizers because you don't have enough staff on hand. Also, treat the employees as well as the customers. The happier and more invested they are in what they do, the better your business will run.

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