Running a successful bar may seem like a chaotic venture that provides very little stability of operations. Hosting events, happy hours, market fluctuations, new competition – your bar is vulnerable to sudden inconsistencies in procedures. A good restaurateur, at the very least, needs to be able to adjust on the fly.
Nevertheless, there’s a very fine line between success and failure, so we must keep doing the little things right.
This means implementing regular opening and closing procedures: the touchstone processes of your restaurant. This isn’t just a good work ethic: it also has the practical benefit of making your operations run smoother.
In this article, we’ll present the best bar opening and closing procedures checklist available to help bar managers keep track of what needs to happen during these crucial times.
Why Is A Procedural Checklist Important?
While it’s true that there are many quiet nights, a sound bar should always be able to accommodate rowdy patrons and wild nights. After all, it’s a place for people to come and let loose.
But as every bar manager knows, this often means that things can get a little out of hand. Thus, bars need to implement opening and closing procedures to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks, and that the bar is able to open and close smoothly – regardless of what is happening.
Here are three reasons why having a procedural checklist is vital for bar managers.
It provides a sense of regularity
Having a bar opening and closing procedures checklist gives you and your employees a blueprint to follow. This way, you can avoid the feeling that every day is a new adventure.
After all, it’s a job that you will hold on to for months, and it’s psychologically demanding to have to go through a new experience nearly every month – even for seasoned veterans.
Additionally, it adds an element of routine to help ground the shift for your employees after a long day of adjusting to the demands of your customers. It also helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page, so there are no surprises down the road.
There are always the same things to take care of
Although every night entails different challenges, there are always some opening and closing procedures that need to be completed – no matter what.
For example, you will always need to clean, restock, prepare, and more every day. These are repetitive tasks, which means that no matter what happens, you will most likely be going through these things at the beginning and end of every shift.
A checklist can make these tasks more sustainable.
If you do these things every day, you might as well do it excellently – and you can do that by creating an ordered procedure that your employees can easily follow.
Routines make things more efficient
If you have opening and closing protocols, it’s much easier to prepare for the next shift.
Without standardized protocols, your employees are liable to forget things they need to do – especially after a long and tiring shift.
That’s why it’s crucial to have a checklist your employees can always refer to so that they don’t have to expend their limited mental energy to remember what needs to be done.
What Should Be Included In Your Bar Opening and Closing Procedures Checklist?
Now that we’ve gone over why it’s important to have a bar opening and closing procedures checklist, let’s take a look at what should be included in yours.
Bar Opening Checklist
This section will discuss a detailed checklist of bar opening procedures that your bar should be able to execute every day.
Conduct a Thorough Property Check
The exterior of your establishment affects your customer’s intention to buy your food. A clean, welcoming, and professional surface will invite people to try out your menu, while a dirty and unkempt one will keep all but the bravest customers away.
This means that every day, you need to take into account the conditions of your establishment’s exterior.
When you walk up to your restaurant, you should evaluate whether your frontage needs cleaning, repairing, and repainting, among others. Check to see that it has not been vandalized, that there are no graffiti, or that certain things have not been stolen. Take note of trash around your property, and clean up whatever you can before returning for everything else.
Another thing that you should be concerned about is your security, so check your exterior cameras held up well for the night and that it hasn’t been shifted to create a blind spot that vandals might have taken advantage of.
If there are things needing repairing, retouching, or redesigning, take note of them and take care of them as soon as possible.
The exterior of your building is critical to your business because it’s the fact that your customers will see it when they walk up to your store. Thus, take the time every day to ensure that you’re presenting the best face possible for your patrons.
Do an Initial Assessment of Your Interior
When you get in, do an initial assessment of your establishment: your floor and work area.
Running a restaurant is hectic; most likely, several tasks got left over from yesterday or the day before. Conduct an initial assessment to ensure that it won’t be forgotten again.
Take special note of things that have to be repaired, cleaned, or prepared. Were there spills that needed to be cleaned? Spots that need to be cleaned again? Odors that have to be eliminated? You should also make sure that there aren’t any broken chairs, missing items, or any other employee responsibilities that went undone or weren’t done to your satisfaction the night before.
Your initial assessment is akin to creating a battle plan. By identifying all the tasks that need to be completed, you can better assess how to use your time and resources to get everything done before your customers start flowing in.
Clean Your Establishment Thoroughly
Now that you’ve done your initial assessment, you should have a pretty good idea of the tasks you have to do and the order in which you have to do all of them.
Cleaning is an essential step in your opening checklist. Among everything else, this should be one of the top priorities. Customers will notice a dirty and unkempt bar, even if it’s just greasy glassware or an unmopped floor.
If there are spills and uncleaned areas from the night before, make sure that these are dealt with immediately. These are not only unsightly, but they can also create slip hazards for your employees and customers alike.
Aside from that, here is a checklist of cleaning things that you should keep in mind.
- Dishes. You should put away the dishes cleaned from the last shift and clean any that haven’t been washed.
- Glassware. Inspect glassware for dirty streaks and ensure that they are all spotless.
- Bar surfaces. Confirm that the counters, tables, chairs, stools, and benches don’t have stains, spots, or foul odor.
- Ice wells. Fill your ice wells with clean and sterilized ice.
- Floors. Mop the floors and make sure that there are no slip hazards.
- Restrooms. Check the toilets for any spills, bad odor, or clogs.
- Beer lines. Inspect and clear beer lines by draining a few ounces.
- Floor mats. Lay down clean mats and put away dirty ones for cleaning.
- Trash cans. Line your trash cans with fresh bags and ensure they don’t have an odor.
- Garnishes. Inspect garnishes such as lemons, limes, and olives for freshness.
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Double-Check Your Taps
Your tap system is the lifeblood of your bar, and its proper functioning will make the difference between a good night’s business and customers complaining as they leave your establishment.
Thus, you need to ensure that your taps are working as they should. Faulty lines, broken spouts, or even sour kegs can put a real damper on a busy night, so ensure that your taps are spotless and functioning perfectly.
You can do this with a little bit of draining and ocular inspection. Make sure there aren’t any leaks – even a tiny overlooked drop can develop into something disastrous over time.
Always check your taps before opening up to make sure everything is working properly, the beer is still good, and that they are clean.
Conduct an Inventory Check
Lastly, you should always do an inventory check before you open up. It’s pretty much a guarantee that your inventory will become depleted over the course of a night, and you need to ensure that you have enough supplies on hand to last until closing time.
Even just a quick inventory check can do wonders. Knowing your inventory levels beforehand can help ensure that even if anything runs out, it won’t come as a surprise. Additionally, your bartenders will also know what to skimp on and what to pour a little more heavily.
This will also give you an idea of what needs to be restocked, so you can make a list and prepare it for the next bar shift.
Bar Closing Checklist
Having a good bar opening procedure is one thing, but closing up shop is an entirely different animal. Once the customers have left, and the bar is quiet, you have to start thinking about cleaning, restocking, and preparing for the next day or night.
Again, this is where having a bar closing checklist comes in handy. This will help you ensure that you haven’t missed anything and that everything is in its rightful place.
Empty and Lock Your Establishment
If possible, ensure that there are no more customers before you start going through your closing routine. Nothing slows up the closing process more than having new customers come in and order stuff.
Sometimes, you’ll have customers who want to stay until the last call. In this case, make sure that they are well-behaved and not causing any trouble.
Once the bar is empty, go ahead and lock the doors. Make sure you implement closing time rules firmly. Not only will it help regularize your processes, but your employees will also thank you for setting clear expectations on when they will be off.
Store Your Perishables
Perishables such as garnishes, food ingredients, desserts, and appetizers should all be properly wrapped and stored in your walk-in cooler. This will prevent them from going bad prematurely.
Make sure that everything is labeled correctly, so you know when they were stored and how long they’ve been in the cooler.
Cross-check your current inventory against what your POS shows, and then note any differences.
Do a Deep Clean
Deep cleaning at night is one of the most critical aspects of the closing shift.
After a busy bar night, your place will be dirty, to say the least. If you don’t do a deep clean now, you’re going to be short on time when the opening hits the day after.
Cleaning your bar equipment should be a detail-oriented process: here’s a checklist that can get you through it.
- Empty. Take out all of your trash and make sure it’s taken to the dumpster.
- Wipe down. Clean and disinfect bar surfaces, tables, stools, chairs, benches, walls, door knobs, switches, and more.
- Wash. Thoroughly clean end-of-shift glasses, mixer bottles, garnish trays, containers, speed rails, bottles, spouts, etc. Wipe them down or leave what you can to air dry.
- Check. Ensure that your beer taps are secure, your soda gun nozzles are working correctly, that the temperature in reach-ins is optimal, and that nothing is missing.
- Sweep and mop. Clean your floor and ensure that nothing leaves stains and odors.
- Clear. Check that your floor drains don’t have any debris blocking the system.
Refill Any Disposables
Things such as toilet paper tissues, napkins, hand sanitizers, cleaning implements, and more should be refilled in advance. Also, remember to fill disposable cups, plates, and straws.
Don’t forget to stock your ice maker so that you have a good amount prepared for the next shift. If you’re not too busy, you can also pre-cut fruits and garnishes so that it won’t take too much time on the following day. Remember to put them back in the cooler after you’re done.
These things are easy to forget, so doing them at the earliest convenience would save you from the potential hassle and embarrassment of the following shift.
Check the Register
At the end of the day, the success of your bar depends on how much money you bring in, so making sure all sales have been accounted for is crucial. Before you go, check your POS records and then cross-reference them with your cash. Make sure to note payments made with cards, vouchers, and gift cards.
Hopefully, you should already have a system in place that will decide who handles your money and how the checking should be done.
If something is off between registers or an inventory check doesn’t line up with the POS, you should also already have a system in place to double-check any discrepancies.
If you don’t have a system or are looking for a reliable solution, check out Glimpse. You can use this tool to cross-reference your POS entries with items passing over the counter, aiding you in your loss prevention practices.
Best Practices For Bar Opening and Closing Procedures
While it’s true that running a good bar is all about being able to adjust on the fly and work with evolving situations, it’s also critical to have regular routines that you need to follow.
Plus, it also serves as an important psychological touchstone for you and your employees. No matter what happens throughout the day, the rhythmic procedures of opening or closing provide a sense of regularity in your daily shifts.