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We’re Recapping Chilled 100 ELEVATE 2023: Raising the Bar: Choose Your Own Adventure Seminar

In Raising the Bar: Choose Your Own Adventure, industry professionals discussed the ins and outs of bar management, including staff retention, getting the most out of your liquor representative and supplier relationships, and the various aspects of bar ownership.

Panelists included Emma Alexander, a traveling consultant, mentor, and spirits cocktail competition judge; Robin Wolf, a bar owner, certified spirits professional, certified sommelier and cicerone, mentor, and expert in locally focused and sustainable mixology; Tara Gillum, who operates a cocktail bar that specializes in premium drinks at a blue-collar price point; and Ryne Hoffman, who runs the bar program at a multi-venue hotel. It was moderated by Steven Huddleston, a beverage professional with more than 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry.

The panelists offered their suggestions for three different “adventures,” each outlining a scenario that one might encounter while working in bar management. The first thing they discussed was how getting and keeping staff has always been an issue in the industry — and it continues to be an ever-growing problem. Huddleston asked for successful techniques and ideas to obtain quality staff, as well as any methods the panelists use to keep them on payroll long-term.

Alexander suggested asking atypical interview questions, such as: What were you listening to in the car on the way here? Or, what did you have for dinner last night? This will not only help you get to know a prospective employee better from the very beginning, but it will get you attuned to their learning style. “If I cannot personally train you,” she explained, “I will pair you with someone who has a learning style similar to yours, so you don’t feel alienated during training.”

Hoffman assigns each barback to a bartender, who serves as their mentor. This helps to keep new employees accountable and invested in the program. Gillum uses a family-style model to keep the team accountable. Everyone meets at her house for brunch once a month, which fosters personal relationships between employees. This helps the group understand that all feedback comes from a place of love rather than reprimand.

Wolf said that retaining employees comes down to one basic idea: treat people well so that they stay with you. “Investing in your people returns to you multifold,” she said. “Retention is key to company culture, to your bottom line, to pretty much everything. It’s very intersectional.”

The post We’re Recapping Chilled 100 ELEVATE 2023: Raising the Bar: Choose Your Own Adventure Seminar appeared first on Chilled Magazine.

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