In most restaurants that have bars, a well run bar will pull in a much higher profit margin then even the best run kitchen. Especially with a bar that serves wine by the glass, which has a much higher profit margin then even bottles if managed correctly
But on a cautionary note, you can also lose quite a bit of money on a bar if costs are not controlled properly.
Some major factors that can contribute to this are untrained or careless bartenders, employee theft and employee drinking (whether it’s allowed as part of your policies or not) and waste of product.
I’ll start with the least important and then address the other in future posts.
Wastage of product: This can be caused by improper care of semi-perishable and perishable products. An example would be maraschino cherries not tightly sealed and refrigerated, they can go bad and attract both airborne and other pests.
Contrary to popular belief that maraschino cherries, like Twinkies, will never go bad, once they are opened, they do have a shelf life. It may be a long one, but this can get greatly reduced by mishandling. Bad cherries as well can make your customers quite ill. When added to mixed drinks, an “off” cherry may not be tasted at all when consumed because alcohol dulls the taste buds.
Another example may be not sealing a cardboard style heavy cream container tightly. While H.C. has a fairly long shelf life for a perishable product, sealing it tightly will give you several more days usage out of it safely. A good trick for this is using metal binder clips from Staples to clip the edges together.
While you may not think bars have a lot of semi-perishable product aside from fresh fruit, it does include a variety of fruit juices (fresh, frozen and or/canned tomato, pineapple, OJ etc), whipped cream (fresh made and from aerosol), milk, olives, cocktail onions etc.all of which can contribute to having a bar cost gone bad.
Not keeping your drink additives well sealed as well can attract airborne pests. Grenadine, sweet and sour mix and Rose’s Lime Juice are loved by fruit flies. Make sure your tops are sealed well or if you use pour tops, seal them at night with saran wrap/plastic baggies and rubber bands. While they do make commercial close tops for pourers, they are frequently misplaced and I think honestly a waste of money in the long run. I have seen bars that have purchased them and then repurchased them repeatedly. Saran and rubber bands is a heck of a lot cheaper in the long run.
Another factor in wastage can be preparing too much sliced fruit in advance. While bartenders, especially ones anticipating a busy night, may not want to run out of product in the middle of a busy bar rush (understandable, who wants to slice fruit while trying to serve and make drinks for 30 plus wired people?). There does needs to be a healthy limit set.
Check your averages for usages and keep track of them. Excess fruit can be given to the kitchen to utilize (yes as a former chef I know you are all cursing me here), juiced before it goes bad and the juice can be made into specialty cocktails the next time or frozen in ice cube trays. Frozen lemon or lime cubes can be a great addition to specialty mixed drinks. While your bartender and/or chef might complain about spending an extra 10 minutes a week taking care of this, the amount of money and time you can save by utilizing the extra product will more then make up for itself in the long run.
A cheater for chefs and barkeeps, juicing already sliced lemons is a pain, but buzz them in the robot for a couple of seconds and strain in a chinois or coffee filter, its not such a hassle.
Please check back for How Your Bar Costs Can Get Out Of Control, PartTwo: Untrained or Careless Bartenders,