How to Prepare Your Bar for a Busy Night

Certain holidays and special events drive extra business for the restaurant industry. The night before Thanksgiving, for example, increases bar business in some parts of Michigan by as much as 50 percent (and is usually considered the biggest night of the year for bars).

How successful you and your staff are at handling customers during those shifts has everything to do with preparation. With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, here are some reminders for how you should be preparing your bar for one of “those days.”


Making sure to have enough hands on deck could be the difference between a busy day going off without a hitch or being filled with glitches. Gauge what you anticipate in terms of additional strain on your dining room, kitchen and security and make increases accordingly. This is a situation where you want to err on the side of too many employees rather than too few.

Operational adjustments.

It’s sometimes wise to consider making temporary changes in policy to compensate for additional customer traffic. One option is removing more complicated menu items in order to help keep your kitchen on top of an increase in traffic. Some restaurants temporarily suspend taking reservations when they know they’ll be swamped. If you take reservations on a night when you know open tables will be of particular value, it might not be a bad idea to require credit card information up front and charge a cancellation fee.

Be ready to move.

Though we assume you check inventory before every day you open the doors, it won’t hurt to up the ante in that area. Making sure to re-stock critical menu and drink items will help prevent a delay that could cost you time and money. Having to run out for additional menu staples or tap a keg is a delay you want to do your best to avoid.

Prep the cast.

It might not be a bad idea to take a page from Broadway’s book and conduct a type of rehearsal before a special event. Actually walking regular staff through potential situations might be extreme, but you’ll benefit from scheduling a lengthy meeting in advance of the big day. Talk the staff through changes and make certain everybody is on the same page before the “curtain goes up.”

Plan for Mishaps.

Busy nights may lead to a few drink spills or the accidental broken dish. Be sure to have cleaning supplies readily available. A mop and bucket with fresh water and easily accessible towels can go a long way to ensure that messes can get cleaned up right away.

Although some variables such as weather will always be outside of your control, there is no reason a lack of preparation should be the cause of lost business on one of the busier days of your year.

How do you prep for a busy night at your bar?

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