You've obviously given some thought about being a bartender because you're reading this site!
You're looking at your life and probably thinking about making some changes. Changing jobs, making more money in a good economy or bad economy, supplementing your income or getting out from behind the desk in your corporate environment. Bartending is even OK during retirement.
In life we all need a vehicle to get us where we want to go. To reach our goals we all need a "vehicle" to get us there. Bartending is probably one of the best to help make the journey. We can do it part-time or full- time or even make a career of it. Bartenders can also get into restaurant/hotel management. Working only a few shifts per week, bartenders earn as much or more than people working a full week in a different field. Have cash in your pocket every day instead of waiting for a weekly pay check.
Why do you want to be a bartender? The most common answer is "to make money." Bartending as a profession, and almost a hobby-like profession at that, is definitely the right choice. It's a job, unlike most jobs, that is surrounded by TV, sports, music, entertainment, making drinks for celebrities, laughter, joke telling and carrying on spontaneous conversations. The customers are there to have a good time and relax, usually after a stressful, tedious day's work or possibly to meet someone for conversation or some romantic beginning. They are single, married, divorced, widowed, lonely, angry, depressed, sexually frustrated, stressed out from work, and are there, for the most part, to enjoy themselves before going back to the realities of life! Some will be "regulars", that is, the ones that come in frequently during the week, perhaps daily, perhaps each week every month for years. They usually have their favorite seats or stools (remember Cheers?) and will feel uncomfortable if someone is sitting in it. They "know" each other and it's somewhat of a small family get together at your bar. As you get to know your customers, which is one of the most important aspects of bartending, you'll become part of the family and one of them. You'll know their names, nicknames, what they drink and some of their background, habits and quirks. You'll know their favorite sports teams (should you say their team sucks?), political affiliations (don't get involved in politics at the bar), religion (carefull on this one!) , views on sex, the government, World War II , Vietnam War, how to straighten out the country and maybe even their sexual orientation. All of these topics are volunteered by the customer ....... you don't ask.
A termite walks into a bar and asks ... "where is the bar tender? (don't worry... you'll probably get it later!)
People like to be recognized and love to hear their name. A friendly atmosphere is created when you address someone by their first name when you see them come into your establishment and head toward your bar. It's especially nice if they bring others with them who haven't been in your bar previously. Next time, when they're in the neighborhood they might remember what a friendly place it was and stop in to see you again. This is how bartenders build a clientele or customer base, the same way that a salesperson or business does. Today, an acknowledgment or a thank you at a gas station, retail store or supermarket is almost non-existent. You feel like you're interrupting the employee.
Don't try to solve anyone's problems. We all have our own and as a good bartender, your personal problems should be left outside the door before you go to work. You should be a happy, pleasant person behind the bar.
A note about tips and earnings: Bartenders can sometimes earn more money working alone than with other bartenders on certain days or nights. If you work alone the tips are all yours (good or bad) and if you work with other bartenders the tips are counted and split evenly at the end of the shift. There is a tip jar or bucket behind the bar where bartenders put all tips collected from customers at the bar. Tips never get put into your pocket until your shift is over. For example, Monday nights might normally be a slow night, but when Monday Night Football begins you suddenly become very busy and you still might be working alone. I worked alone on Monday nights in one restaurant and averaged $200 - $300 during the game (don't ask me where it is ..... it closed!). Remember, your "guests" (this is what restaurants call customers) are also ordering bar food, appetizers and meals while at the bar if they are not going to a table. Nothing personal toward servers, but some of the "guests" waiting for tables should be having such a fun time at the bar that they decide to give up their number for a table ..... the tips for food and drinks is yours!
Next time you are at a bar feel the bar and you'll notice that it might be a little sticky or tacky. This isn't because the bar hasn't been cleaned, but because of the temperature in the room and hot and cold drinks and food being placed on the bar. Have you ever tried to pick up your loose change in coins that the bartender placed on the bar? It's a little difficult and then you try to sweep the coins off the bar toward you and into your hand. Guess what? There's a rail or bumper on the edge of the bar so you give up and leave them there. Just extra tips that add up at the end of the shift for the bartender who could be you! Bartenders should always place the coins on the bar and not on top of the dollar bills.
Have you ever looked at a crowded bar on a busy Friday or Saturday night and there are a few bartenders behind the bar and it looks like they're making a load of cash? People waiting for tables might order a drink or two, leave a couple of dollars tip and then go to a table to order more drinks, (which you'll be making for the servers) and food. It always pays to be nice to the servers because they "tip out" bartenders (and bus persons) a percentage of their sales at the end of the night. Occasionally it's figured out in the manager's office when they cash out after their shift or most of the time they tip at their discretion. Bus persons will also get tips from bartenders for helping get glassware from the kitchen and stocking liquor and beer when the bar is busy.
As a bartender you're selling yourself! You'll always be neat and have a pleasant appearance. A smile is #1. Also a sense of humor as well as being friendly, diplomatic, outgoing, polite, courteous, sympathetic, understanding, a good listener, sometimes a shoulder to cry on and even flirtatious. You, as well as the customers, can have a good time during your shift, and that's the way it should be.
The job part of bartending is that bartenders have to stock glassware, stock liquors, wine and beer, fill the ice, change beer kegs, clean the bar, bottles and shelves, take out floor mats, take out garbage and recyclables, etc.
So go ahead ...... be friendly and put those tips in your pocket! (after your shift and not during your shift).
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