View Full Version : Chain restaurant Bar service. . . or lack thereof

01-28-2018, 08:54 PM
A few observations on bar service. I am curious to see what others thoughts are.

Recently had dinner at a local Logan's. During dinner, I asked the waitress for a 7 and 7. .She came back a few minutes later, "I'm sorry sir, the bartender said we don't have the stuff to make that. . "

Alright I figured, "I'll have an old fashioned" and soon was met with the same response. I finally choose a "trendy drink" from their menu, which tasted like pure vodka mixed with a bit of kool aid. . not the mark of a decent bar keep.

Tonight, I headed over to Chili's and was seated near the bar. I had a beer, some chips and salsa and waited a bit to order dinner. During dinner, the waitress asked if I would like another beer, and I replied not yet. .

After the dinner was finished she dropped off the bill and disappeared. I finally went to the bar to pay my tab. Remarked to the person behind the bar, "Its a good thing I didn't want another beer or something else to eat. . . " She looked at me clueless.

Is it my imagination or are the new food chains not savvie in the ways of the bar anymore? I can almost understand a limited bar menu, but letting sales and dollars walk out the door due to inattention and poor training? (It was not like a busy evening at Chili's, as I walked in at 8pm on Sunday -they close at 10:30. I could have counted the number of customers on one hand with fingers blown off. . . )

Is this widespread or what? I can see some of these chains going under in short order (forgive the pun). . .

01-28-2018, 09:02 PM
Chain restaurants with bars aren't as popular these days as they were last decade. Millennials are avoiding them for the most part. There is another thread about how chains like Chili's, Applebees, Buffalo Wild Wings, etc are struggling due to changing tastes. About the only thing they have going for them is they are entrenched in rural and suburban areas where the only competition they have is dive bars, if even that.

If ordering a cocktail, it's probably best to order from the menu at those places in my opinion.

Bill Robertson
01-29-2018, 06:53 AM
It’s like most any other service industry. Hit and miss. We were regulars at a Garage for some time. There were always servers/bartenders that ranged from really bad to just flat amazing. We stopped going because our schedule started aligning with the lower end. Now we regularly frequent Chili’s and Twin Peaks. The same range of service applies. Some are great. Some look like they would rather be anywhere else in the world than there. Some of the problem is managers that just walk around, seeing, or should be seeing, the poor service their employees are giving and not doing anything about it. In fact we’re cutting out a night or two a week at Chili’s because one of the amazing bartenders moved and the replacement is not good. Now I’m going to sound old. Most server/bartenders are under 25. Bartenders maybe under 30. It can be hard to find service employees that age that REALLY want to be server/bartenders. So even if they hire the best of those who apply it’s not what you’d really desire for employees. On the other hand there have always been a couple server/bartenders every where we frequent that are amazing. They hustle, they care, they’re knowledgeable, they look like they enjoy being there serving customers.

01-29-2018, 04:30 PM
Bartenders can’t make money in an environment like that. There’s simply not enough volume to attract a high caliber employee. A good bartender in a good establishment can make $1,000/week. But not without getting the right gig and holding on to the reigns because it is not easy to do that kind of volume, maintain knowledge of thousands of ingredients and recipes, be on top of the trends, be a member in the bartender/service community. Let alone land the job in the incredibly competitive market. So the untrained, uninitiated, and dregs fall to fast casual chains where the bar training consists of a plastic binder with the corporate “blue hurricane frozen chiller” recipes.

01-29-2018, 04:33 PM
Whiskey cake is an awesome example of a restaurant that has a real bar program. Their staff is constantly training on technique, booze, customer service. A lot of their veterans go on to manage new bars and direct beverage programs around town.

01-29-2018, 10:09 PM
There are some chains that have great bar staff and really do things with excellence. Examples that come to mind are places like Charleston's and Cheesecake Factory.