Guy Fieri visits America's most interesting and unique restaurants on Food Network's “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” He walks into kitchens, lifts lids, opens doors and asks questions, quickly gauging the quality of the food. While this show is designed for entertainment purposes, it has a message that operators should not ignore to improve bar product quality.
I recently completed a beverage operations evaluation for a client who had been receiving customer complaints about the quality of drinks served and wanted to find out why.
My client prides himself on the quality of food served. On a shift basis, the manager and chef perform an inspection of every hot and cold food item on the food line.
“We take pride in what we serve, and this is what brings our customers back,” he explained.
My client was a former chef who enjoys working in the kitchen and talking with customers. In keeping with his line of interests, he hired managers with food backgrounds who focused on perfecting customers’ eating experiences, but did little to supervise the bar side of the business.
After observing the bar operations over a series of lunch and dinner shifts, several issues became clear:
- Beer temperature: The temperature of the draft system was 42EF when it should be 38EF. The beer companies were cleaning the taps, but the long-draw glycol system had not been serviced, resulting in higher temperatures, foaming and waste.
- Post mix brix: The soda poured was too sweet, and the tonic was weak. The proper brix service and maintenance had not been completed for months.
- Garnishes: Lime and lemon wedges were different sizes. The fresh fruits were mixed with old garnishes, and containers were not labeled or dated.
- Ice levels: Bartenders were half-filling glasses with ice, requiring them to add more mix and, consequently, making the drink recipe weaker.
- Pouring levels: Glasses were overfilled, and drinks were spilling over the sides.
- Pre-mixes: Again, containers were not labeled or dated. Partial cans of pineapple juice, energy drinks and tomato juice were not stored at room temperature.
- Refrigerators: Temperature gauges were not working, shelves were dirty and filters were clogged.
- Pour spouts: Pour spouts were worn and leaking.
- Bar cleanliness and organization: The floor mats were worn, the backbar was cluttered with personal belongings and the bar top had not been cleaned. Plus, fruit flies had invaded the bar!
- Glassware: The glassware was spotty and chipped.
You don’t have to invite a Food Network star to one of your restaurants to start lifting lids, opening doors and asking questions to improve beverage product quality. In fact, these steps should be taking place regularly within your restaurants to ensure that the drink quality is on par with the food.
Here are five steps to get started:
- Implement a “we do everything fresh” mentality in the bar, at every location.
- Hire managers who have experience in food and beverage.
- Make sure each location’s management builds pride with bartender staff to serve quality in product and presentation.
- Implement a product line check before every shift, chainwide.
- Encourage managers of each unit to randomly inspect drinks during each shift.
Contact Dronkers Beverage and Social Media Solutions at [email protected] and receive a free bar-inspection checklist.