If you work as a bartender in a restaurant, you may feel detached from the kitchen staff, but the reality is you’re all working as part of the same team. For a restaurant to be successful, all of its employees need to work together to deliver positive customer experiences.
So why not take the initiative and bridge the gap between yourself and the kitchen staff? This will enable you to develop favorable workplace relationships which will ultimately equal better service for your guests and higher tips for you.
Here are five ways you can get the kitchen staff to love you:
As a bartender you spend the majority of your shift behind the bar, just as the kitchen staff spends the majority of their shift in the kitchen.
Developing rapport when you’re unable to communicate during most working hours may seem tricky, but it isn’t. Before each shift, spend a few minutes socializing with the kitchen staff. Ask them a few rapport-building questions such as “How are you?” and “What are you doing this weekend?” and then ask them about anything you should know before your shift begins such as “Are there any 86’d dishes?” and “Do we have specials tonight?”
Spending a few minutes each shift will allow you to connect with the kitchen staff and also better prepare for each shift.
Don’t Hang Out in The Kitchen
Imagine for a moment your bar is slammed, and one of the kitchen chefs is on a break. Rather than hang out in an employee designated space, this chef comes behind the bar to pick at your garnishes and socialize with you.
Not only would this disrupt your workflow, but it would likely irritate you too. The nerve right?
Unfortunately, this behavior happens frequently in a lot of restaurants where front of the house staff members hang out in the kitchen, snack on food and stand around during break times or when the bar and floor are slow.
It’s important to remember that just because work is slow for you doesn’t mean it’s slow for everyone else. The kitchen staff might be busy organizing, preparing for a visit from the health department or getting a large catering order together. Whatever the case, don’t hang out in the kitchen during operating hours.
Always Ask Before Taking
You wouldn’t just walk into a friend’s house and borrow or use something without asking first would you? Well, the same rule applies in the kitchen.
Don’t take anything without asking first. Most kitchens have a specific order and flow, and when you take something without telling anyone or asking you risk causing confusion and irritating the kitchen staff.
Imagine you grab a rack of dishes, garnishes or food thinking no one will notice or mind. But, soon you find out those dishes haven’t yet been cleaned and in your eagerness, you serve a customer with a dirty glass or plate? Or perhaps those garnishes you assumed were cut for your bar were actually meant for a dessert the chef is preparing? Or the food you ate was someone’s homemade meal?
All of these scenarios are plausible if you don’t ask before you take something. So don’t risk making someone angry due to laziness, just ask first.
Be Respectful And Gracious
It’s human nature to make mistakes — everyone does it — especially in high pressure situations where orders are printing quickly, and production has to happen immediately.
So when an incorrect order comes out of the kitchen (because at one point or another it will happen), don’t get angry and start pointing fingers. Instead, calmly explain the error, and ask for your order to be re-made.
When you handle situations like the above respectfully the kitchen staff will be understanding, apologetic and willing to quickly correct the mistake. Remember, you’re human too, so at some point or another you’ll mess up on something too, and if you’re always gracious with the kitchen staff, they will be gracious with you.
Now, if mistakes are being made frequently, call this issue to your manager’s attention and allow your manager to handle the situation from there. As a bartender, it’s not your job to coach, scrutinize or in any way challenge the kitchen staff, so pass the torch on and let the appropriate person take care of it.
Gratitude is a powerful force — it is scientifically proven to make people happier and increase workplace productivity while raising morale. For kitchen staff who spend their shifts working behind the scenes, gratitude is especially important because they work long hours, under tremendous pressure and are rarely recognized.
A nice way to show appreciation to the kitchen staff is by saying “thank you” at the end of every shift — it takes little effort on your end and is important for the kitchen staff to hear.
Also, if you work for a bar that allows its staff members to enjoy an end-of-shift drink, don’t forget to include the kitchen staff! After spending eight plus hours on their feet, it’s nice for them to be able to sit back and relax too.
If you use these five suggestions, the kitchen staff will love you, resulting in better service for your customers, more money for you and enjoyable, drama free shifts!