While being nocturnal and shopping at 4am can have its advantages for avoiding long queues, it’s a bit of a pain for when you have stuff you need to do in the day times. Its all too easy to slow down towards the end of your shift and just drift towards clocking out, but with a little planning you could shave 30-45 mins off your close down time after the last call – which could be an early night or making it in time for that beer at another club before you head home. Either way, no-one likes those breakdowns that just drag on and on.
1: Only set up what you need.
N.B. This does not mean not being prepared for your shift, but there is a difference between how you set up for New Years Eve compared to a Monday night in January. If you’re working on your own, you only need one station set up on the bar. Not only will you have less to clean down at the end of the night, but having only one set of juices out and in use means less wastage as does reduced amounts of fruit cut. Only setting up the stations you need means less wells to empty and dry, less bottles to wipe, you get the idea.
2: Cut your fruit to order.
This has a couple of advantages (I mean on a quiet night) in that your fruit garnishes can’t be much fresher than when they’re cut right there in front of your guests for their specific drink, and you won’t need to wash out a garnish tray at the end of your night. If you’re expecting a bit of a rush, for example if your bar is near a cinema, prep enough to get you through the dinner rush and then keep small amounts of fruit on the chopping board you’ll use to cut anything else you need (but be sure to keep enough room to cut safely). The key is getting jobs done early in the night where you can.
3: Make sure your colleagues know the situation.
There is nothing worse than cleaning out your wells and then a waiter coming onto the bar (make sure your wait staff are well trained) and spilling beer all over your shiny stations. If other people must enter your domain (the bar) either let them know verbally or make it visible that “I’ve done this already!” I’ve been known to clean peanut rails (those rails on your edge of the bar that hold your build mats) and cling film them (not sure what the American word for sling film is… cellophane maybe?) so that spills come right off when you peel it as you walk out the door.
4: Clean as you go.
If you constantly keep your station and the bar in general clean, tidy and regularly wiped, you won’t have horrible dried on ice cream to clean off of your blender bases at the end of the night (just one example of course). Its much more work to go around the bar after closing and sweep up knee deep drinks napkins and food debris than it would be to pop out every hour or so to maintain it. Also make sure your bar top is clean, tidy and not sticky at all times – not just so you can get out early, but so that you look like you care.
5: Clear your well early.
Transfer your juices and ice to Lexans about 30-45 mins before closing if its not busy so you can dry your wells and get everything else packed away, but be sure that you can still make any drink you get asked for. Wanting to leave early is never an excuse for your service to suffer.
6: Label as you go.
Make sure your date labelling for juices, foodstuffs and other items are done at the time you open them (or whenever they should be based on your local laws or guidelines) rather than leaving them until the end of the night. You’re just making your life more difficult, they’re mind numbing to do in bulk and you’ll be more tempted to relabel things that should really be thrown out!
7: Keep your guests informed.
Let your guests know that you’ll be closing soon 15 mins before you do, and you won’t be rushing to make 4 rounds just as the bar closes. Rushing to make the drinks will make you more likely to spill and make a mess, or break a glass, all of which will make you hate yourself just as you should be heading off for that beer that you’ve earned with your great work!
8: Make life easy for the opening bartender.
As much as you want to get out, don’t make it a nightmare for the bartender in the morning to set up the bar. When you do a quality close, they will be able to set up well for the next bartender relieving them, which will make the next close easier. This is the karma of bartending! Always leave the bar as you would wish to find it the next day, fill your fridges early (then you’ll only have to grab a handful of beers to fill the gaps once you’re closed).