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Published on May 28th, 2014 | by Jackie

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The Three Phases of Hospitality

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By Jackie Armstrong

Many of the seminars during the Industry Invitational are based around spirits or cocktails (obviously!). I loved attending the Three Phases of Hospitality because we talked about the experience you have when visiting our favorite cocktail establishments. The fact that it was led by a few of the best bar minds in the country right now was a special treat. Our fabulous welcome cocktail made with Plymouth Gin didn’t hurt either …

Jon Santer, owner of Prizefighter in California.
Jon talked about efficiency, so basically what you do before the guest walks in the door to set your staff up for success. This comes from them being efficient but also helping the customer to be more efficient and anticipating what they want. One example, arranging your bottles a certain way behind the bar. At Prizefighter the bottles are organized by spirit and then get this, by geographical region. Other details – organizing your menu in a way that whether it be thinking about what cocktail you list first or how many to list in each category, it is easy to use. They even put outlets underneath the bar so you can charge your phone – simple, but genius. After hearing Jon talk about all they have going on at Prizefighter (and the very lovely mezcal selection) –  I am dying to visit this bar!

Joaquin Simo, bartender extraordinaire and owner Pouring Ribbons
Joaquin talked about creating a feeling of hospitality for your guests once they are inside. The recipe is pretty simple: add enthusiasm from your staff + the ability to create atmosphere where bartenders can anticipate what you want. Basically it goes like this – you feel like your bartender is only focused on you while they are making a drink, having a conversation, seeing what is happening on the floor, noticing the person who just sat down needs a menu, making a mental note tins need to be cleaned and a bill needs to be picked up – and it all looks effortless. Walk in the bar from the rain and your bartender hands you a napkin to clean your glasses because he noticed they were wet, that’s hospitality.

Sean Kenyon, owner of Williams & Graham in Denver 
The last piece, but no less important, is making sure you create a sense of hospitality within your staff. How do you inspire them, instill a belief system and create a sense of community? Each person should understand every role in the bar and how to support each other. Creating loyalty in your staff makes them care about their job and it reflects in how they are behind the bar. If you can do all of those things, it directly translates into the experience a guest has when they walk through the door.

 cover photo via Prizefighter

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