Bar Hacks

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Turning Crisis into Confidence

Articles Submitted To Media Partners During Covid-19 Pandemic

By Doug Radkey (March 2020-July 2020)

Take Time to Recharge: Self-Care During a Crisis

During times of crisis, everyone feels something: sadness, confusion, fear, anxiety, or anger.

It can be easy for many within the industry to become overwhelmed with the amount of decisions that need to be made not only for their business, but for their family, staff, and community.

One area that often gets overlooked, particularly among business and community leaders, is their own self care.

From watching the news every hour to making tough decisions, to hours of volunteering, to scrolling through your social media a little too much, it’s easy to get lost in the noise of what’s going on around us in the time of crisis.

And you’re not alone in this……Continue Reading Here on Nightclub & Bar

Every Red Light Eventually Turns Green

When faced with a lengthy business shutdown, it can be a roller coaster of emotions when you learn it’s time to re-open. While it is understandable that you want to open your doors as quickly as possible, you also want to ensure you’re doing it correctly and in a way that will not cause further damage to your brand, bottom line, staff, or guests.

The truth is, as a variety of government bodies have indicated; you’re likely going to have to open your venue in a series of phases. Are you financially & mindfully prepared for that?

You are also going to have to pivot (are you tired of that word yet?) if you haven’t already in addition to diversifying your menu and offerings.

You are going to have to build a high level of trust with guests like never before….Continue Reading on Nightclub & Bar

Adapting to Change; Seating (Part 1)

Understanding flexibility and a willingness to embrace change will make you a valuable leader — one who can reliably deal with many different opportunities and scenarios. You will then find change is not something to fear, but something to welcome and turn into an advantage. For restaurants with a large on-premise business model, change is happening and you need to prepare – now!

The biggest fear factors for many with a significant dining room are the new seating recommendations and capacity levels for dine-in restaurants. Everyone reading this will be in a slightly different scenario, pending the size of venue, location, and style of concept, so it is hard to create a cookie-cutter solution.

However, there are some new strategies and standards to consider that will help you adapt, pivot, and embrace these changes. Continue Reading on Resto Biz

Adapting to Change; Seating (Part 2)

To maximize your seating, encourage guests to make reservations, preferably online. Your guests will want to pick their spots, their proximity to others, and their proximity to high-traffic areas. Your new seating arrangement should ideally be online to review and should also be flexible.

Having a reservation system will also allow your staff the appropriate time to fully sanitize and prepare each area for the next number of guests in a reserved party.

With reservations, it may be wise to also consider time restrictions; guests who are used to travelling to tourism hot spots will be accustomed to these types of rules. Don’t be scared to put a 60- or 90-minute timestamp on reservations to encourage more table flips, which you’ll want to do as many times as possible within safety guidelines. Continue Reading on Resto Biz

Maintaining Financial Health During Pandemic

You already know the majority of restaurants run their business on extremely thin margins, and in the the time of COVID-19, the financial health of the industry has become all the more precarious. In fact, a recent (U.S.) National Bureau of Economic Research paper gave restaurants a 30 per cent chance of reopening if the pandemic lasts four months; this estimate drops to 15 per cent if it lasts six months.

The average restaurant, it found, had enough cash on hand to last approximately two weeks. Why such little time? Because the 3- to 5-per cent profit margin of the average restaurant or bar simply can’t cut it in this environment.

Here’s the thing – we can’t continue down this doom and gloom route. The industry will prevail, and some will come out even stronger – if they push forward now. Restaurants must operate with the mindset of achieving 12- to 15-per cent profit margins – and the secret is, it is possible. Continue Reading on Resto Biz

Hotel F&B in a Post-Pandemic Landscape

early all of our favorite and most popular travel destinations around the world have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in a horrendous financial loss for hotels, resorts, and the entire hospitality industry alike.

Research by the American Hotel & Lodging Institution suggests that hotel recovery to pre-COVID-19 levels could take until the year 2023—or perhaps even later with the expected ‘long-term’ loss of business travel and international leisure travellers.

There are numerous strategies and alterations to consider moving forward for the operation of a hotel property post-pandemic; but one area that can help properties regain their guests’ trust plus revenue and profits is that of the food & beverage program. Continue Reading on KRG Hospitality

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Bar Concepts w/ Sensory Experiences

Developing a Bar Concept w/ Sensory Experiences

By Doug Radkey – 09/23/2019

Once your idea has been researched and the market, location, technical, business, and financial viability of the idea has passed a series of reviews throughout a feasibility study, a concept development plan can then be started.

Remember, outside of being scalable, you want to build a concept that is sustainable, profitable, memorable, and consistent.

Bar concepts over the years have gone from being tame (or lame) or overplayed, like tiki bars or sports bars, to concepts that push the boundaries of what a bar can be. One of the best ways to build a customer base is to go off the beaten path to create a bold and fresh new bar concept.

A concept plan will focus on ‘chapters’ and visual storyboards that include an overall:

  • Concept Summary (a one page summarization similar to that of an Executive Summary)
  • Statement Overview (Value, Vision, Mission, Culture)
  • Architectural Design (characteristics, features, costs)
  • Bar/Kitchen Production (your equipment specs)
  • Entertainment & Guest Experience Summary
  • Menu Design Attributes (food & beverage)

Owning a bar is a dream for most that must be met with the right research, planning, and mind-set.

One’s market will, and must, define the concept. To be successful, you must be open to building a venue the market both wants and needs.

Concept development is giving your ‘idea’, both soul and character. A bar’s concept is the lifeline of its brand and longevity in the market. It makes your venue stand apart from the competition, and it’s ultimately your bar’s unique selling proposition.

Have you ever walked into a bar and been confused about its identity? The interior doesn’t match the beverage offerings, the social media experience doesn’t reflect the actual experience, and even the music doesn’t seem to match the vibe of the bar.

This is what happens when there isn’t a clear and detailed concept development plan in place, and it is a sure fire way to be just average at best.

It’s More Than Just a Drink

Most conceptual ideas start at the food & beverage level. A bar however, needs to remember that they don’t just sell food & beverage; they sell experiences through the enhancement of guest emotions.

When planning a concept, it’s imperative to have a focus on the style of menu and niche of entertainment – but a winning concept will elevate a guest’s variety of senses. Here’s how:

Visual: Use the mindset of a traditional bar meeting on-trend beverage effects. Consider the style of beverage vessels, the use of unique ice cubes or even dry ice, the garnishes used, and potentially a variety of ‘smoking’ techniques within a variety of your signature cocktails, providing a visual effect that grabs every guest’s attention.

Plus, it will be hard to find a guest who is not taking a photo and sharing it on social media – an easy promotional tool to make each of their individual networks feel as if they’re missing out (FOMO) on the best experience in town.

Auditory: Music, drinks, and food share an intimate connection. From the beginning, this should be a focus. Every day, every weeknight, and every weekend must be filled with strategic decisions around sound.

From your day-part strategies, to the sound of cocktail shakers, to live music calendars and even proper speaker placement – your venue must see why 76 percent of bar customers surveyed believe they stay longer due to the sound of the environment.

Olfactory (smell) System: Like sound, a pleasant and subtle fragrance can lead to an improved perceived quality of the environment and can enhance the mood of guests, causing them to stay longer. Our sense of smell is after all, directly linked to the part of the brain responsible for memory and emotion – two things bars need to strive for.

For example; consider a Smoked Cedar Plank Whiskey around the Christmas season. The scent of the smoked cedar will fill the bar area with a subtle Christmas tree aroma, prompting the guests attention and need to spend more money.

Gustatory (taste) System: Food & beverage pairings have never been more important, and it isn’t just for wine. Consider appetizers (snacks) within your food & beverage program that pair with miniature versions of your signature beverages (beers, wines, and even cocktails) that could be served on flight boards; elevating all flavor profiles.

Your remaining food & beverage menu should be small, balanced, and targeted around flavor profiles that your ideal guests desire.

Summary; When you combine these efforts, it’s easy to see how a successful brand can build a community around thousands of fans – within 30 days of opening.

This is something you can easily replicate if you focus your decisions on layout, design, food, beverage, training, and events around the above sensories.

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Enhancing Your Bartenders Experience

Enhancing Your Bartenders Experience

By Doug Radkey – 09/17/2019

We Have a Problem – There’s No Team Spirit in Many Bars

Within the industry, we always talk about ‘experiences’ – and rightfully so. At the end of the day, experiences are what bars and restaurants sell to customers. All of the emphasis however, is on customer or guest experiences; but what about staff experiences?

Do your staff show up, do their job, and go home? Is there any sense of ‘family’ in your establishment? Is there laughter, or just silence, or even worse…complaining?

Time to Hit the Reset Button!

Desirable experiences shouldn’t stop with just your customers – your team craves experiences too! As owners, operators, and managers, it is up to you to make your concept more than just a ‘job’ or way for staff to ‘pay their bills’.

Implementing the right culture statement and team-based strategy, will assist in controlling your labor costs and reduce turnover – resulting in not only stronger consistency within your operations, but a positive environment that will flow to your customers and help amplify word-of-mouth marketing.

Here are some #BarHacks to help you get started:

Web Presence & Social Media

Bar enthusiasts are seeking to learn and understand the culture of a bar when deciding on their eating, drinking, patio, or party destination.

This is a great opportunity to showcase your team on your social media channels and on your website. Create a bio for your staff noting something unique about them, take a photo (or better yet, a video) of them and share this content to your ‘community’.

This will equally make your staff feel like they’re a part of a team and the business development process.

Create That Stay Interview

Many of you have likely heard the term ‘exit interview’, but what about a ‘stay interview’? Take video to the next level by interviewing your staff and developing a series of testimonials as to why they love working for your bar.

This tactic will create a sense of place and family among your team and also assist in your hiring process; positioning you to attain higher quality candidates who seek a positive working environment.

Continuous Education

A great team member is one who craves learning and one who brings the same set of values as you do to the table. Keep in mind …

“A bar is only as good as its worst bartender”

Every bartender must be of the same quality at your bar. If not, guests may become a fan of one bartender (and not the bar itself) – leading them to follow the bartender if he/she were to leave for another bar.

Take the time to invest in further training and education for your entire team.

Depending on your overall bar concept and financial model, consider developing an educational program for your team.

Think outside the box and create culinary/hospitality scholarships and/or consider sending your team to farms, breweries, wineries etc. to learn about specific products you offer and their development processes.

Continuous education will create a sense of appreciation, enticing your team to stay loyal to your establishment while benefiting not only their experience, but your customers’ experience as well.

Profit Sharing Programs

It’s safe to say, everyone enjoys working towards a common goal. Consider creating a realistic monthly revenue goal (slightly above your current average) for your bar. Now share this goal with your staff and create a SMART plan for the month on how to collectively obtain that goal.

If you surpassed that goal (congratulations), distribute a percentage (5% for example) of the monetary difference among your team.

Repeating this process each month will not only increase your revenue and profit, but will develop a team working environment, reduce turnover, and make your team feel important to the business and its success.

SMART Staff Reviews

Speaking of goals, there should be team oriented goals (profit sharing) and also personal goals developed within an overall action plan.

You should sit down with each individual teammate at least once every three months.

During this meeting and using SMART (Specific. Measureable. Attainable. Realistic. Timely) objectives, give each teammate something to work on over the next three months.

This could be increasing revenue per transaction averages, providing accurate inventory counts, reducing waste levels, or having accurate end-of-day cash out reports.

Of course, reaching objectives should be rewarded; therefore create a reward program that works for your concept and financial model.

Creative Mindset

Don’t let your staff get complacent behind the bar by having the same menu month-after-month and year-after-year.

This will lead to boredom, which will eventually lead to turnover. Allow your team to be creative by ‘creating’ food or beverage options that fit within the confines of your concept.

Consider holding an in-house contest each month to choose one featured food and one featured beverage option created by a staff member.

Highlight this on your social media and in-house marketing (effectively creating a story) while rewarding that individual with a commission on sales from that item for the remainder of the month.

If the product sells really well, consider adding that item to your everyday menu the next time you re-engineer your food & beverage menu.

In summary, execute a marketing plan approach to your staff recruitment and staff development program.

The time, resources, and effort spent on this will be well worth it in the long-run.

Just ask your staff!

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Building a Sustainable Cocktail Program

Building a Sustainable Cocktail Program

By Doug Radkey – 04/05/2019

Let’s be honest, the traditional bar setting serving cocktails is an environmental nightmare.

Let’s think about it; there is high use of energy within ice machines, refrigeration, and glass cleaning appliances. There is enormous waste in garnishes, straws, bottles, and napkins (to name a few). And finally, there are corporate wineries, distilleries, and breweries producing a large carbon footprint delivering spirits to the bar.

When it comes to bars; (or any other food & beverage service provider) the producers, manufacturers, delivery drivers, owners, managers, and servers ultimately share the responsibility to create an enjoyable guest experience within ones concept. As we have seen with restaurant kitchens over the past 3-5 years, there is now also a ‘movement’ towards eco-friendly and sustainable bars, something many guests are seeking as part of their desired experience.

On the surface, it may sound like an easy change, but creating cocktails in particular that are ‘sustainable’ (zero waste), is in-fact difficult to produce while maintaining the required quality, speed, and profit margins both operators and guests, look for.

So how can independent bars make a simple impact within this craft-cocktail ‘movement’? Let’s begin to have a look at some strategies (#barhacks) that one can implement starting today:

Re-Purposed Ingredients – How can you use 100% of an ingredient? Start by looking at the beverage menu. How large is it? Does it have focus? What ingredients are used in each and every drink that’s made? Which ones are used for infused flavour versus visual appeal? Which ingredients are only partially used with the remaining components discarded into compost, for example fruit scraps? Review each drink and look for ways to re-purpose ingredients and their counter-parts, within both the bar and/or kitchen.

Edible Garnishes – Obviously, cocktail garnishes are decorative ‘ornaments’ that often add character or style to a cocktail. They are often used to complement and enhance the flavours in a drink by stimulating the special nerve cells in our nose and mouth. The days of plastic straws, festive umbrellas, plastic skewers, and other non-edibles however, need to stop. Instead, use fresh fruits, flavour infused salts, edible stir sticks, edible flowers, house-made flavor-infused lollipops on candy sticks (yes), and steel skewers for olives and other edible garnishes, if so desired.

Energy Conservation – Take a close look at your glassware and how it is washed. Are you using over-sized glasses (ie. martini glasses) that are taking up too much space on the wash-rack, leading to unnecessary additional washes (which costs money and uses more detergents)? How many glasses could you fit if you changed glassware sizes?

How much ice are you using in each drink? Does the beverage really need ice or could the glass be simply pre-chilled? Take a look at your menu, glassware, fridge space, freezer space, and use of ice machine. Is there a way to reduce used energy within the bar itself to help create sustainable cocktails?

Supply Chain Management – Transparency, traceability, and accountability must be a top concern when deciding on vendors to ensure all products (both food and beverage) entering your bar or other food service business, are not only safe & sustainable for your customers, but for your community. Work with beer, wine, and spirit makers who are equally trying to make a difference. With the growth of local distilleries, breweries, wineries, and produce suppliers; supporting local and reducing the carbon footprint within a bar, is so much easier! Collaborate and work together to make a difference.

In summary, don’t start a goal of 100% zero waste or sustainability – it’s likely not going to happen overnight. Instead, set SMART realistic goals to reduce waste by 15 or 30% over the next 6 to 12 months to begin building a sustainable cocktail and/or bar venue. Once that goal is obtained – double down on that goal for the next 6 to 12 months. You and your customers will notice a positive difference!

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Bar Design 101

Bar Design 101

By Doug Radkey – 07/26/2018

There is truly a science to the design and layout of a winning bar. Outside of implementing a timeless interior, a bar needs to consider many factors including but not limited to; efficiency, hyper-local competition, and overall guest experiences – within its design elements.

Completing a bars ‘concept plan’ should be one of the first steps any aspiring bar owner should take. A concept plan will outline vision, value, mission, and culture statements plus its initial architectural, entertainment, and menu development characteristics (wishlist).

Once you’ve defined your concept, you can begin adding more heart and soul to the design and overall guest experience strategies; the back-bone to a memorable bar. Every component of the bars interior design, entertainment plan, and menu development process should enhance the guests’ overall senses (also known as emotions).

Here are items you can work on for your vision, prior to delivering a presentation to any designer, consultant, and/or architect.

Energizing the Space

Consider ways to not only maximize the space, but energize the space. What experiences can you deliver? Use this time to consider adding space for sound engineering, live music and/or DJ’s, interactive games, mix of televisions, and the right mix of socializing and networking opportunities.

Social Space

In today’s market-space, it is imperative that all newly designed bars (and restaurants) take into account social media, guest photos, and guest videos. Keeping the energized space in mind, how can you add space with the right lighting for taking group photos (with your branding in the background) in addition to taking videos and photos of cocktails and/or food.


The next focus needs to be on bar efficiency. Consider the size of establishment, guest capacity, and your point-of-sale requirements. Then add multiple bartender stations while choosing the correct equipment, bottle display, overhead glass racks (less breakage), and under-bar space plus the number of speed rails, ice stations, garnish stations, cutting boards, and sinks within a one pivot movement for each bartender. This will then determine the size of ‘bar’ required, which will assist in developing your budget (and beverage menu).

Kitchen Space

A winning bar will also have a memorable food program. Offering premium food and focused, high-quality beer, wine, & spirits is a recipe for maximum revenue potential in today’s market space. Ensure there is space for grills, flat-tops, deep fryers, burners, and a convection oven (or combi-oven) plus space for prep areas, freezers, and refrigeration to provide a quick (and profitable) food program.

Seating and Lighting

This will entirely depend on the chosen concept. Your choice of lighting and seating will determine length of stay, the amount of money a guest will spend, and how they will interact with guests in their party plus other guests at your bar. Every seat and light fixture must have a purpose. This is just as important as laying out the actual back-bar itself and should be discussed with designers, architects, and consultants.


Consistency through all design elements (interior, exterior, menus, website, social media, and other marketing collateral) is the final consideration piece. Look for ways to incorporate subtle additions of logo colors and branding throughout the venue. Where ever the guests will take the most pictures and videos, make sure there is a way that people will know they’re at your bar!

There are numerous other variables and details required, but starting with this will make you look like a pro when you meet with a designer by having a concept plan completed and a true vision of how you want your bar to be laid out. A professional designer should be able to then take your vision, tweak it to professional standards, and implement it into drawings that will ensure it meets local codes and your overall budget!

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Creating Adult Playgrounds in Your Bar

Creating Adult Playgrounds in Your Bar

By Doug Radkey 11/09/2017

Traditional darts, billiards, and even dance floors are starting to take a back seat in today’s fast-paced bar segment. To be current, playful, and competitive, today’s bars are required to step up their ‘game’; where having a great time must be a guarantee!

It’s no secret, that keeping guests in a venue for as long as possible creates more revenue generating opportunities. By providing a variety of interactive games and maximizing the square footage (creating an adult playground), venues can provide the energy needed to attract guests, amplify their brand messaging, and generate revenue throughout the many parts of a day or evening.

To do this successfully, bars need to first create unique value, vision, mission, and culture statements while understanding their true target market. This will ensure that the right mix of interactive games, music, food, and beverages are provided – creating an atmosphere that will resonate with the guest.

Here are five #barhacks to keep in mind when developing your venues interactive strategy plan:

Create Energy

After reviewing your target market and the available square footage, what interactive games would generate positive energy and a memorable experience? Which day-parts are lacking revenue and what can you add to fill in the gaps and maximize on each operating moment?

Hot trends for new builds: If you’re just starting out, look at the feasibility of a business model that revolves around an adult driven bowling alley, shuffle board layout, axe throwing cages, and/or indoor golf simulation that pairs well with unique food, craft beer, cocktails, and music.

Hot trends for operating bars: If you’re already operating and don’t want to plan for a major renovation, analyze your current square footage and consider adding in the likes of bocce ball, adult arcades, ping pong, beer pong, foosball, life-size connect four or skee-ball for example; either indoors or outside on the patio. If you have multiple large screens, consider hosting sport tournaments using an x-box (as one example). Maximize each minute and feel free to rotate a variety of games in-and-out, to keep it fresh.


Providing this type of atmosphere and energy is what suppliers like to see. This opens up an opportunity to collaborate with your suppliers to step-up promotions and offer unique, highly valued prizes and theme nights that will be a win-win for everyone involved, including your customers.

Food & Drink

Once you know the interactive route you’re taking, it opens a large opportunity for unique menu items. Outside of traditional speciality menus, consider adding self serve food or drink stations. With fun, interactive adult games comes the notion to reflect on your youth. For example, a fill your own candy bowl station or build your own ice cream sundae station. Or perhaps consider adding in a ‘create your own’ Caesar (Bloody Mary) bar stocked with different flavour infused ingredients.

Revenue Packages

Adding in all of the above tactics will position your bar to create ‘stay & play’ type packages or revenue generating membership cards, which will also create long-term loyalty. With the right marketing plan, this ‘value-add’ approach will win with both the younger and older generations.


When finalizing your strategy plan and mix of interactive games, music, food, and beverages, always think social media. Design everything so it is social media worthy meaning guests will want to take photos, take live video, or simply check-in at the hottest spot in town – creating an inevitable fear of missing out (FOMO) among their network.

Pairing all of this with a fun, secure atmosphere will undoubtedly create brand ambassadors and long-term success for your bar. It’s time to think outside the box and up your game to create memorable guest experiences!

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Security Strategies for Your Bar

Security Strategies for Your Bar

By Doug Radkey – 10/25/2017

Slips and falls, over-serving, theft, and violence are the most common reasons a bar needs very strict safety and security strategies. Bars, pubs, lounges, and clubs in particular, must continuously look at opportunities to reduce risk and liability.

The bar industry is built upon reputation and that reputation can be altered in the blink of an eye. In reality, it only takes a short moment of ‘looking the other way’ to create an unwanted atmosphere that encourages theft and an opportunity for violence, in particular.

As a bar owner, operator, manager, bartender, cook, server, or security personnel, it is your cohesive duty to create and maintain a safe environment and positive experience, not only for your customers, but your other team members as well.

How can we reduce risk and liability while creating a positive, memorable guest experience?

Bar Characteristics

The first thing to consider, is the bar concept. What brand messages are being portrayed? What type of environment has been created? Characteristics that often relate to violence and liability issues include darkness, crowded areas, noise level, competitive games (example pool tables), aggressive bouncers, and temperature/ventilation issues. How would you define your characteristics and what can be changed to improve them?

Drink Safety Policies

Guest harassment and potential danger, often comes with either the quantity of drinks consumed and/or the consumption of ‘spiked drinks’. Ensure that all bar staff have been highly trained (and have ongoing training) on proper serving protocols, signs of intoxication, and potential elements that can lead to ‘spiked drinks’ by other guests. In addition, it’s important to have a ‘safety drink’ that female guests can ask for if they feel they’re in danger, which should be posted in the female washroom indicating what to do if they feel they’re in a dangerous situation.

Install Strategic Cameras

There is plenty of new (affordable) technology that can assist in bar security, theft, and the protection of overall liability. Consider installing night & day 360 degree cameras to capture every moment as it happens. Cover the bar, liquor shelves, dance floors, cash registers, storage areas, hallways, patios, and all doorways with proper indoor or outdoor monitors. With digital storage space, you can now keep hours and months worth of data, to protect your brand from potential litigation.

Lighting Strategies

Dark areas are perceived as an area to start fights, to steal, to spike drinks, or to handle drugs. Ensure that washrooms are bright and that each light bulb both inside and outside the venue, has a true purpose. Is it to create atmosphere, create a sense of security, or a blend of both? Think through each light placement for a better sense of security and to protect both staff and customers.

Staying Alert

Sounds simple, but as time goes on, people often put their guard down and become complacent in their day-to-day activities. Absent-minded owners, managers, and staff can lead to danger for everyone. Provide a known presence, remember there is safety in numbers, and have ongoing meetings regarding theft, security, and guest experiences to keep everyone on the top of their game.


Are they still needed? Yes, they are an important part of a bars security plan, especially in larger establishments or venues with competitive gaming, live music or DJ’s, and dance floors. However, aggressive bouncers can actually lead to violence and security issues. Hire properly trained bouncers, have a security plan in place, and enforce your rules of conduct (which you hopefully have). Also, ensure your bouncers have a positive and transparent relationship with local police in addition to an effective communication plan, if there are multiple bouncers.

Bars can even step up their game by also hiring ‘guest experience officers’ who are visible on the floor both enhancing the guest experience and communicating with security staff of potential issues before they escalate. This is a less aggressive approach and is known to work, in both security elements and an increase in sales through brand perception.

Bars that target younger, less agreeable and more impulsive drinkers are the most at risk. Know your concept, know your target market, and know the consequences of having a poor security strategy. Your reputation and long-term success ultimately depends on it!

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Sound Engineering for Your Bar or Restaurant

Sound Engineering for Your Restaurant or Bar

By Doug Radkey – 09/26/2017

In the bar (and restaurant) industry, emotions and experiences are paramount. Without delivering positive emotions and memorable experiences, you will not have a long lasting business. Outside of food, drink, seating, video, and decor – properly engineered sound (music) can enhance those much needed feelings that guests’ ever so often, desire.

Music has the authority to deliver the right ambiance based on one’s brand and based on one’s target demographic while increasing overall profits. No matter the concept, guests are known to enjoy their food, drink, and inner-circle company more so when music is playing; which ultimately makes them stay longer and of course, spend more of their hard earned dollars at one’s venue.

We sat down with our friends at Playdio Inc., a new platform labelled ‘handcrafted radio for your business’ to ask them a few key questions regarding the importance of sound engineering in bars today. Here’s what they had to say!

Bar Start-Ups

If you’re in the start-up phase of your food & beverage business, don’t overlook the importance of music and sound. As Mat Lunnen of Playdio tells us “a new bar is like a luxury cruise liner – it’s not a speed boat. Erratic music creates erratic guest behaviour. Changes in your music should be subtle turns like a large ship, not swerving in and out of the water like a jet ski.”

To accomplish this is no easy task. It takes the correct sound system, the correct speakers, the correct speaker placement, and the correct level of sound paired with sound management (song choices and playlists) to make it work like the noted luxury cruise liner.

“You’ve taken the time to surround yourself with professionals in your business. From designers and architects, to bookkeepers and chef/bar consultants, you rely on experts to craft these parts of your business. Music is equally as important and cannot be overlooked.”

Working with a sound or music professional “allows you to dive deeper into understanding your day parts and demographics while creating memorable and meaningful experiences for all your customers.”

In summary, make the right choice and invest in proper sound engineering and sound management, right from the start.

Psychology of Day-Parts

Whether it’s pre-game drinks at a bar, or a fine dining experience at a restaurant, crafting the perfect playlist is an art form. “Using professionals can help increase customer engagement, and impact customer behaviour & spending patterns, while allowing you to focus on the more pressing day to day issues of your business.”

Mat’s advice “is to take a good look at your day parts, understand them and who is in your business at that time, and create appropriate playlists for each day part”.

For example, during lunch hour, consider upping the tempo and energy of the music being played to encourage guests to eat their food faster, opening up tables for additional customers.  Analyze each hour of the day and the type of guests you’re typically serving. Subtle tweaks to music selection can play a large part in duration of stay, money spent, and guest satisfaction.

Four-Walls Marketing

Marketing events through sound & music is also an excellent way to drive emotion and memorable experiences. Does your bar show the hockey game every Saturday night? It would be ideal then to “play stadium songs that we would normally hear at the hockey arena, as if we were really there, to get your customers in the mood”. Don’t want guests heading to the exits after the game? Consider “crafting a high energy, familiar playlist and then crank the volume to keep the party going” which is a great option to pair with late night food & drink menus.


When you “take songs that are connected to our memories and times in our lives where music and sound had more of an impact on us – we increase social experiences, social activity, and often connect those feelings back to a specific venue where the song was played”.

Music builds brand perception, creates an atmosphere, influences guest behaviour, attracts & prolongs guest visits, increases staff productivity, and boosts staff morale. Who wouldn’t want all of that!?

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Developing a Profitable Beer Program

Developing a Profitable Beer Program

By Doug Radkey – 07/28/2017

You could try and make everyone happy by offering hundreds of beers at your bar, but for many, that’s likely not going to happen due to space restraints.

A bar needs to carefully consider their beer program and offer one that is balanced, targeted, and one that fits their concept to maximize its potential.

A great beer program should have the same respect as a carefully drafted wine or cocktail program. Don’t build a beer program based solely on the recommendations of a brewery sales representative.

Outside of advanced bar design, adequate refrigeration, and proper draught lines etc., here are some helpful tips for you to consider, when designing a new or revised beer program.

Market Research

Assuming you know the targeted demographics of your bar and the hyper-local area surrounding your bar, you first need to develop a program that speaks to them and your concept.

  • Is the beer intended to compliment a meal or simply promote a refreshing, good time?
  • What are the age brackets, income levels, and number of men vs. women?
  • How long are your guests intended to stay?

There is a difference between a sports bar and a neighbourhood pub or a bar & grill. Knowing this data will help determine the next steps.

Craft vs. Big Brand

Once you know the above, you can then focus on styles and not necessarily brand names. We can all agree that the craft beer ‘movement’ isn’t going anywhere, but don’t just create a craft beer program because everyone else is. Know the market, know your customers, know your flavour profiles, and create a mix of known brand names and local craft beers, with the right balance of styles.

Beer Balance

As it’s noted, focus on styles and flavour profiles. If you have an excellent food program (let’s hope you do), you can effectively pair beer with your food menu just as you would with wine and cocktails to create a full sensory experience. You can also step up your beer program by offering seasonal beers that rotate while keeping your program fresh and exciting. If each beer program has at least one of the following, there should be enough options for proper pairings; Pilsner, Amber, IPA, Farmhouse, Wheat, Pale Ale, and Stout.

Product Consistency

When it’s time to choose your preferred breweries for the beer program, remember that quality must be kept top priority. Not only in taste, but the breweries customer service and delivery logistics. This is especially important with craft beers and how quickly they’re emerging. Visit the brewery and have a tour while you discuss their product, their recall program, delivery schedules, pricing, and emergency calls (example, you’ve ran out of beer before the next delivery).

Beer Education

Once that is all solidified, all of the service staff and bartenders need to be educated on each of the beers. They should know the beers history, ingredients, flavour profile, and correct pouring methods and its required glassware. This will go a long way in the overall guest experience and up-selling of the product.

by krghospitality krghospitality No Comments

4 Ways a Bar & Grill Can Win Back Guests

4 Ways a Bar & Grill Can Win Back Guests

By Doug Radkey – 07/24/2017

Over the past couple of years, we have collectively seen the ‘bar & grill’ segment on a continuous decline. Nearly every market across Canada and the US is over-saturated with the traditional bar & grill concept and most have become complacent in their own operations; offering similar menus and guest experiences while not adapting to industry changes.

Furthermore, this segment has been losing to other fast casuals and specialty eateries (plus food halls); ones that specifically target millennial demographics. The bar & grill however, has an opportunity to regain customer share in this cut-throat industry.

When targeting the millennial demographic, it’s imperative to plan around the fact that this group will pay more to go to a venue that offers premium food, high-quality beer & cocktails, and that cater to social engagements (ie unique experiences).

Here are 4 quick ways (#BarHacks) that the traditional ‘bar & grill’ can win back customers, starting today!


Traditional burgers, wings, nachos, and beer can no longer be the norm to ‘attract’ guests to a bar & grill. Concepts that are driving innovation within both the kitchen and the bar, are the ones currently leading this segment. Fresh ingredients, hand-crafted drinks, cocktail pairings, unique plating, and innovative (or at least) new takes on traditional bar-fare, need to be considered during your next engineered menu.

Trend Management

Trends come and go, but bar owners must adapt to local market changes and demands. This is not only in food & beverage offerings, but overall guest experiences. What trends are driving guest energy, guest spending, and guest duration? Find the need in your hyper-local area and simply adapt it to your concept!

Back-Bar Strategies

When is the last time you took a careful look behind your bar? Realizing the necessary return on your alcohol investment is also partially a question of cost control. Create a niche in your bar & grill by re-focusing and minimizing the beverage menu offerings to develop signature, fun, social, and targeted drink menus your guests will want; ultimately reducing the dust on your bottles and wasted overhead.


The bar & grill segment most definitely survives off of alcohol consumption, but many bar owners have been left behind and have not adapted to the off-premise dining option that many demographics are now seeking, leading to a loss in revenue opportunity. With the right menu mix, margins, promotions, and even online ordering methods, a bar & grill can attract and take part in this revenue generating platform without necessarily reducing overall on-premise revenue.

The adage ‘innovate or die trying’ is evident in today’s bar & grill. What will you do to stand out and remain relevent? Start here with these ‘bar hacks’.