We have an eight seat bar and our bartender insists that she be considered a section and be in the with the table rotation. I say that we only seat the bar if our guests ask to sit there. Is that right?
– Barbara Barnes, Assistant Manager, MWR Cubi Café, Pensacola, Florida
This question is pretty easily answered but belies a bigger problem, I suspect.
Assuming a typical layout and a diverse clientele, you are right not to treat the bar as a separate area from the dining room and not seat it unless a guest asks to sit there. Alternately, if the dining room is full, you can offer to seat someone immediately at the bar, rather than having them wait for a table. Some guests are skittish about sitting in a bar area due to problems with alcohol, fear of rowdiness or a sense that it’s not the best seating. So it should not be assumed that the bar is an option at the host station.
This question is probably symptomatic of a bigger problem—the bartender feels she is too slow and/or not making enough in tips. Or she is a whiner.
Look closely at your tip out percentage—is it equitable? Ask guests who look like they would be confortable at the bar (single diners, 20-something couples), if they would like to sit at the bar or at a table when you greet them. You can certainly steer people to the bar if you feel it will enhance guest experience without making it part of the rotation.