Friday, January 30, 2009

Who's Next?

If you ever find yourself working behind a bar full of people waiting for drinks, how do you know who to help first? If you scream out to the crowd "Who's next?", I guarantee you that everyone who is waiting will yell that they are. Chaos will ensue.

Last Halloween, we had one of these nights behind the bar. One minute there were only a couple of people at the bar having drinks. The next thing I knew, the whole bar was packed and people were desperately trying to get my attention so I could help them next. It's situations like these where you as the bartender need to be organized and create a system and/or some sort of flow for yourself. If you start helping people at random, the people waiting on the other side of the bar are going to get antsy while waiting for their turn.

On this particular night, I just started with the person standing directly in front of my well and took multiple orders with the people waiting to the right of that person. I went all the way down the bar until I got to the very end of the bar or reached the next bartender's well. Then I came back and started helping the next person who was standing in front of my well again. After going down the line in this fashion a couple of times, the crowd caught on that I was organized and helping people standing along the bar in a orderly fashion. It was amazing. Once people saw how organized I was, they were a whole lot more patient and even complimented me on my speed and my ability to handle such an overwhelming crowd. The tips kept getting bigger too.

Every now and then someone would slip through the cracks and "cut in line". Hey, I am just the bartender. I'm not a line monitor. Usually when someone would cut ahead, people who had been waiting on the other side of the bar would quickly regulate that person. The line cutter would always be outnumbered and either wait their turn or fade back into the crowd. I never had to get involved which left me more time to make more drinks.

Think of this concept like eating corn on the cobb. You go down the cobb in a line then as soon as you reach the end, you come all the way back and start a new line. Staying relaxed, calm and organized behind the bar are key on super busy nights. Your customers and your tip jar will love you for it.

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