Increase Profitability Behind Your Bar

increase profitability behind your barAs a pub owner or restaurateur, you may not be familiar with Lean manufacturing principles; however, there are a few you can employ to increase profitability behind your bar.

As its name suggests, Lean manufacturing focuses on eliminating waste, including eliminating wasted motion and wasted space. Manufacturing efficiency drives profitability, and that same efficiency can drive profitability behind your bar. You are, after all, manufacturing drinks. Efficiency is all about ease of access.

Restaurant Hospitality’s “Equipping your bar for profit” suggests five components on which to concentrate for profitable organization: glasses, ice, beverage, mixers, and garnishes.

Bar Equipment

You can’t serve a drink of any kind without a glass. Ensure that the glassware is within easy reach of your bartenders. Hanging stemmed glasses can be handy; however, your local health department may not allow it. Be sure to check on local codes and requirements to avoid a citation. Consider limiting the types of glassware you use. Yes, certain cocktails require specific glassware. Just be certain you aren’t overdoing it.

A glasswasher in the bar can improve efficiency, but you need to have enough space for it. Glasswashers typically require four to six feet of length in order to have enough space for a dump sink and clean drain board. As with hanging glassware, your local authority may require automatic washers rather than hand washing glasses.

Most drinks require ice, and plenty of it. You’ll use about a pound of ice to make three drinks. Be certain your ice bin can handle enough to get you through a rush if you don’t have an icemaker at the bar. Larger-sized cubes are preferred (not only for their look) because small cubes, crescent-shaped cubes, or flakes dissolve too quickly, watering down a drink. You don’t want your bar to get a reputation for watered-down drinks.

The next thing you need to consider to increase profitability behind the bar is measuring. Free pouring may be more efficient and less wasted motion for your bartender, but it may turn into wasted alcohol cost if he or she overpours. Manual drink counting mechanisms may be the ticket or an electronic pour control if it’s in your budget.

Your bartender may have to expend extra motion to accurately pour, but having to reach too far to access the bottle is wasted motion that you should eliminate. A speed rail (36 inches) in front of your ice bin that holds your most popular brands can hold 10 to 12 bottles. Other brands should be stored in an underbar liquor set up with less-used liqueurs and cordials displayed behind the bartender. The critical issue: most used must be most handy.

Soda guns save a lot of time and motion. There should be one at each bartender station. Other mixers can be stored on the speed rail or in wells. As with alcohol bottles the same rule applies: most used must be most handy. Ditto for garnishes.

Consider Drafts

More and more patrons are looking for more and more choices of draft beer, and that’s a benefit to you. Draft beer can be more profitable for you, according to Food Service Warehouse (“Creating a Successful Draft Beer Program in Your Bar or Restaurant”).

While self-contained kegs (directly below the tap) are cheaper and easier to maintain, they take a lot of space: about 20 inches per keg. Plus, changing them can be a disruption to the bar, and Murphy’s Law suggests they’ll blow at your busiest time. The alternative is to use a remote system with all kegs separately stored away from their respective taps. It’s more expensive to set up and maintain; however, depending on volume, you may quickly offset the expense with efficiency.

Your bartender should be able to make nearly every drink ordered without taking more than a single step from the bartending station. By reviewing and possibly altering your bar layout with Lean principles in mind, you can increase the profitability behind your bar without altering what you pay for alcohol.