When you first open up a bar, cleaning is probably one of the farthest things from your mind. With all the other concerns with decorations, financing and hiring, bar cleaning supplies and scheduling were probably not even remotely on your radar.
Bar cleaning, however, is one of the most important bar duties not only because of the unannounced visits by the health inspector, but also because poor bar cleaning can drive away customers and lead to tensions between staff. Customers rightly view poor bar cleaning as a sign of deeper management problems.
So how do you make sure that bar cleaning does not become a problem for your establishment?
Bar Cleaning Duties
Bar cleaning is a must, but how you handle bar duties related to cleaning can vary greatly depending on the particulars of your establishment. If you have a small bar where it is just you and your partner basically running the whole place then there isn’t much to it—you are the managers, the bouncers and the cleaning crew.
Most bars however have at least a half dozen employees and if you are a larger bar you may even decide to hire a cleaning crew. (This is also a nice perk because it not only saves you labor, but most such crews will bring their own bar cleaning supplies. Be sure to ask what you will be required to supply by way fo bar cleaning supplies if you decide to go this route.) Most bars, however, assign the bar duties to its employees. It is important however to carefully manage this task.
If any particular employee feels as if they are asked to do an undue amount of the bar cleaning tasks, or if their tasks are directly interfering with their ability to handle their other duties, discontent will lead to problems and maybe even heavy turnaround.
Create a Bar Cleaning Checklist
The key to having an effective cleaning policy is to create a bar cleaning checklist and to assign specific employees to specific tasks. Generally you want to make sure that employees are responsible for keeping their own stations clean. So bartenders should make sure to wipe the bar, keep the ice machine clean, empty the garbage at their stations before leaving for the night, while wait staff should be in charge of the dining area, including perhaps putting the chairs up at the end of the night. To make sure these duties are clear, it is a good idea to place them on a special bar cleaning checklist included at their stations–ideally one that can be checked off as they complete tasks.
If you are a large enough establishment to have bus boys and runners, this may be a central part of their duties so that bartenders and wait staff will not get pulled away from their work stations during busy hours.
Of course, if you operate a bar and grill, the amount of items on your bar cleaning schedule go up considerably.
All of this should be put in writing and posted centrally in main service area with the employees’ names on the bar cleaning checklist so that it is clear to everyone exactly what their duties are. Soon you will be able to find a post to our checklist that you can adapt for your purposes here.
Bathrooms and other common areas are, of course, can become areas of dispute. I once worked at an establishment where the bathroom was kept clean by the one female waitress in the establishment. The days when this kind of double standard still flies are long past. One good trick for keeping these areas clean is to have a rotating schedule where each employee is in charge of per week. (Of course, employees will occasionally have to come in slightly early or stay late to take care of such duties.)
Create a Bar Cleaning Schedule
Not all duties however are daily tasks. Different cleaning tasks must be done on different time frames. A bar cleaning schedule can help you keep track of when particular tasks need to be done.
Tip from the Pros: There are some bar duties on your bar cleaning schedule which you may get done for free in some cases. One of these is cleaning of the tap lines. Ask your beer supplier whether they provide this service for their taps. Many do because it insures the quality of their products. In addition, some suppliers will even do the same task for your other taps for a fee thus diminishing some of your bar duties. Regardless, it is generally a good idea to do this task in with your other weekly bar duties. (If you have a day when you are closed, you should try to do this on the night before the day off, as the cleaning can sometimes effect the quality of the first few drafts out. Though, of course, if you are having it done for you, it will have to be done when the new tap stock is delivered.)
You definitely do not want to take on this task during busy hours.
Make Sure to Stock the Proper Bar Cleaning Supplies
This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how often cleaning supplies are not included on ordering lists. Bar managers tend to overlook bar cleaning supplies because they don’t see the cleaning of the bar in the same category with ordering the beer, restocking pint glasses, or even making sure napkin dispensers remain full. Failing to order cleaning supplies might force you to buy them from your local supermarket thus losing the benefit of wholesale pricing.
Decide Whether to Hire a Bar Cleaning Service
Finally, if you are a large enough establishment, it may be easier to delegate bar duties related to cleaning. A janitorial staff can come in overnight and make sure everything is clean and ready for business the following day. Few establishments actually do this, because of the expense and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are part of larger organization (such as hotel or resort) where these services may be acquired for free or at a discount.
For most of us in the bar business however, the duties of bar cleaning are simply an unpleasant but necessary requirement of the profession.
Filed Under: Bar Management
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