Guide for Hiring and Maintaining Staff in Your Bar or Restaurant

According to the National Restaurant Association, around 8 million employees in the restaurant industry have been laid off since the beginning of the pandemic. As more people are vaccinated and capacity restrictions start to ease, you’ll need to ensure that your establishment is properly staffed. Though this may seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be. We are here to help you along the way! In this guide, not only will we break down how to find the best staff but also how to find the best staff for you; and how to schedule, train, and keep them around. 

Staffing is important for any establishment. Be it large or small, a restaurant, bar, or brewery, having the right staff can make all the difference when it comes to bringing customers back through your doors. Your staff is the face of your business. They interact with customers, make the food and drinks, maintain cleanliness, and overall, they determine the type of experience that your customers have when they visit your bar or restaurant. Needless to say, when it comes to hiring staff, you must choose the right people for the job!

Not only do you need to ensure that you have sufficient staff to serve your patrons, but you also need to train them to work in the pandemic world. If you’re looking for employee safety and training guidelines during COVID-19, check out this article and share it with your staff too!

How to Find Good Staff

Where can you find good employees?

When you begin your search for ideal employees, it all starts with your job description. Writing job descriptions with too many qualifications can scare away potential workers. And remember, your time is valuable. You don’t need to interview someone with the qualifications of a busser for a head chef position. When writing your job descriptions, be specific in the tasks that need to be done. You want to attract skilled applicants. 

Staff member at Auggie's Draft Room
PourMyBeer self-pour fan Hoppy

PourMyBeer Tip: Skills are teachable. For jobs that do not require schooling (i.e. server, hostess, barback, busser, etc.), we suggest mainly focusing on hiring employees whose attitudes match your company’s culture.

Most important when it comes to hiring, focus on growth potential. Staffing your establishment with employees who have both the potential and desire to grow their skill sets will help you create an ideal work environment. Explain to new hires that you are looking for quality employees and that over time, there is potential for advancement within the company, which comes with increasing responsibilities. Hiring employees who are focused on their personal growth will help the company grow as well.   

Once you have written your job descriptions, you need to get them in front of the right people. In this day and age, your openings should be posted online. Forums like Indeed, Glassdoor, even Craigslist are great websites to post your openings. Additionally, you should engage in more traditional methods like posting a “Now Hiring” sign at your bar, which might encourage skilled customers or community members to approach you about the position.

Below are some notes to consider when interviewing potential candidates:

  • Have the applicant interview with at least two managers – this will ensure their personality fits, and a second opinion never hurts!
  • Ask relevant questions – identify the hard skills that the applicant has.
  • Ask personality questions – identify the soft skills that the applicant has.
  • Focus on understanding the energy/attitude of the employee – a bad attitude will drive customers away; it doesn’t matter how skilled they may be.

What skills should you look for in your employees?

Customer Service

No matter what the job position is, all employees must have some level of responsibility to customer service. Front of house employees must interact politely and energetically with customers, while kitchen staff needs to uphold a level of professionalism and consistency with the food they serve to customers.

Physical Speed and Strength

Servers need to have the agility and ability to carry trays of food and drinks to-and-from tables, without dropping or spilling items.

Safety Conscious

Restaurants, particularly the kitchen, can become a dangerous place. Your employees need to follow and respect your safety guidelines. If not, you can run into serious problems regarding the safety of the customers, and even other employees.

Attention to Detail

This is very important when it comes to customer experience! Servers must be well-educated on the menu to help customers make decisions and follow dietary restrictions. And it is equally as important for chefs to be precise to guarantee consistency with every dish leaving the kitchen.

How to Decide on the Right Staff for You

Are the Employees Matching Your Company Culture?

The right employee for an upscale dining room is not the same as the right employee for a neighborhood dive bar. When going through the process of hiring staff, they must match the personality of your establishment. By doing this, you re-emphasize the vision of your bar and create a team of like-minded individuals who will work well together.

Do Your Staff Members Match the Skills You’re Looking for?

For certain positions such as chefs or bartenders, you need to have a certain level of training/schooling to produce consistent quality, so it’s important to hire people who have a pre-assessed skill set. However, when hiring for other positions, look to the soft skills. Hiring motivated employees who are personable, can communicate well, and bring a positive attitude, is often more important than experience.

How Many Employees Does a Restaurant Need?

Think About Your Business Size, Positions, and Needs

The type of establishment you own will determine the hard number of employees you need, and how you will want to consider staffing. Keep in mind, it’s important to have a manager on duty for every shift to address larger issues if necessary.

  • For a casual restaurant (i.e., dive bar, pub, alehouse, etc.), you should have 1 server for every 5-8 tables and around 4 back of house employees for every 50 tables.
  • For more of a fine dining experience, you want to have 1 server for every 3-4 tables and closer to 6 or 7 back of house employees for every 50 tables.
  • For a self-serve restaurant, you need fewer employees on the floor. We recommend 1 server for every 12 tables while maintaining 4 back of house employees per 50 tables.

How to Schedule Staff

Determine the Number of Staff Needed Per Shift

The most efficient way to identify when you need more staff is by using Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs. Analyzing when your business’s busiest days and times are will help you optimize your staffing needs and reduce excess labor costs. Take a look at our list of 25 KPIs to help you get an idea of what metrics might help you staff your establishment more efficiently.


Cross-training can help you with your staffing issues as well. Training your staff to perform multiple jobs will increase your overall efficiency. For example, your servers should know how to bus tables and back bars. That way, when you have less demand, you can have fewer employees in-house. While this won’t be a solution during more popular hours because you want to maintain superior customer service, this can be very beneficial on slower days. In addition, cross-training provides you with flexibility in your scheduling efforts if you can be confident and comfortable with your employees’ ability to accomplish multiple tasks/jobs.

How to Maintain Staff

Check-Ins & Relationships with Managers

Regular communication with your staff is essential! After all, they are the ones who are seeing first-hand how the company is functioning. If there is an open line of communication between the staff and the managers, you may be able to identify ways to better run the company. This helps you as a business owner, empowers your employees, and makes them feel like they have a stake in the success of the business.

Build Your Company Culture

Let your employees know they are appreciated. By celebrating good behavior, you encourage them to act in certain ways. This will help boost employee morale and create a positive work environment. Celebrate publicly, and critique privately. Be transparent with your staff, they’ll respect you more.

How to Train Staff

Training your staff is crucial. There is no way around that. The better you train your employees, the more knowledgeable they are, and the better the experience is for the customers. However, designing an effective training program is not as simple as it may seem. You need to take into consideration several different variables including time and resources, non-negotiable skills, and trainee demographics. 

Since training employees is expensive and time-consuming, you need to be efficient. Having an established training program with training documentation will help you ensure that you are not spending extra time teaching employees things that they can easily pick up on the job. You want to be clear in explaining to your employees what is expected of them, without spending too much time on the nitty-gritty details. Focus on being concise. 

Training on the job is an effective strategy to teach the smaller details. Having new employees shadow your current workers will help them better understand how to accomplish their jobs. Showing new hires a good example of how to do the job and interact with customers is invaluable. This will teach them not only what is required for the job but also how to embody the culture of your establishment.

Staff trained at checkout for self-pour beer wall

Teach new employees outright how you want them to do their job. Focus on the hard skills, and be clear of your expectations. Work them through the process of problem-solving. Make it clear how you expect them to interact with the patrons of your establishment and teach them what you want them to do in situations that commonly arise. Part of this is also explaining to them when they would be better off bringing in a manager to handle the issue. 

Lastly, remember to tailor your training to your employees. For example, if you are training millennials, it’s important to know how they best learn. Millennials typically do not respond well to being bossed around. Rather, they are more receptive to having a mentor/mentee relationship with their managers. Additionally, for a generation that was brought up in the age of technology, good old-fashioned books and paper-based training may seem outdated. Instead, try to incorporate some technology into your training. 

Different Tipping Methods

In the service industry (restaurants in particular), tipping is an essential part of the salary determination for employees. When structuring your pay scale for your staff, you need to think about how you want to address this. Here is a list of 3 tipping options to consider:

1. Group Tipping

This is the most common across the board. Sometimes called tip pooling, this method requires you to pay all employees the full federal minimum wage. Then all accepted tips will be split evenly amongst employees at the end of the night. This reinforces the team atmosphere between employees because the better each one performs, the better off everyone is. 

PourMyBeer self-pour fan Hoppy

PourMyBeer Tip: You need to keep an eye out for employees who are not pulling their weight. States may have different tip pooling laws, so be sure to check on the tipping guidelines for your specific state.

2. Individual Tipping

As an employer, you have the right to manipulate the wages of your employees receiving tips. You can count a percentage of the tips that a tipped employee earns towards meeting the minimum wage requirement. Individual tipping motivates employees by giving them direct control over additional potential cash in their pocket. This may be ideal for waiters/waitresses and bartenders who usually make between 50% and 60% of their income from tips, respectively.

3. No Tipping

This method is less common; however, it has great advantages. When you establish your pay scale with no tips, you are accepting that you need to pay your employees higher wages. You will attract a different demographic of employees because of the amount you are paying them, and you will most likely retain those employees and have a lower turnover rate. This is also a great solution for self-pour setups! If you work in a self-pour establishment, you may see that some guests are less inclined to tip because they poured their own drinks (which is great!), however, to motivate and retain your employees, you need to compensate them for that.  

Tipping at Self-Pour Establishments

Some of our most successful PourMyBeer family members, aka customers, like District Brew Yards in Chicago, took the route of a no-tipping facility. They pride themselves on having a very low turnover rate and great customer service. Hear more on this in our Fireside Chat with Greg Lamacki, Chief Operating Officer at District Brew Yards.

However, other customers, like Stanley Beer Hall, follow an individual tipping method. Read what Jim has to say about tipping in his self-pour establishment and how this method has helped Stanley Beer Hall retain employees and create a family-like environment among the team.

"The main help for our operation was the ability to retain our long-time employees. Since guests tip on ALL sales, our staff earns gratuity on the self-tap beverages as well as the food they serve. This effectively doubles their sales production and subsequent tips earned per hour worked. This creates a very financially rewarding job helping us to retain our long-time family of employees."

Now let’s check out some other noteworthy tips on staffing self-pour locations!

Staffing at Self-Pour Establishments

Considering how to staff a self-pour establishment is different than a traditional bar or restaurant. One of the biggest advantages of having a self-pour beverage wall in your establishment is the fact that you can drastically reduce the amount of staff that you need to have per shift.

Check out this video where we talk to Gardy Desrouleaux, a managing partner at Craft Food Hall Project, about how self-pour technology allows him to operate his entire venue with only 5 staff members per shift!

Self-pour technology allows you to eliminate the need for additional bartenders, barbacks, and even some waitress/waiter positions. But, it can also create some fun new positions, like a Beer/Beverage Wall Ambassador! A Beer Wall Ambassador is a helpful employee stationed near the beverage wall who can explain how the technology works, as well as help direct customers to their favorite drinks or make new suggestions. 

Historically, we have seen a significant increase in beverage sales at self-pour locations with an ambassador. If you’re looking for a script to give your employees, check out an example here. This will ensure all staff members are making your customers feel comfortable with the self-pour technology and it will help you sell more drinks!

What to Look for When Choosing a Beer Wall Ambassador

  • Pick someone who knows your product (keep in mind they should not just know about it, but get excited about it).
  • Someone outgoing and social.  
  • Pick someone who has a general interest in your operations and wants to help boost sales. (Example: “This beer pairs perfectly with our spicy wings.”)
  • Someone able to learn the script for the check-in process.


  • Experience in the hospitality industry 
  • Tech-savvy
Saigon Outcast staff member and PourMyBeer beverage wall
PourMyBeer self-pour fan Hoppy

PourMyBeer Tip: If you can’t afford to employ an employee with this function full-time, consider having them come in for the busiest hours of the day.

Finally, finding and maintaining great employees is not going to be the same process for every establishment. You will want to start with a clear and detailed business plan and outline what a “great employee” really means for your brand. Now, go ahead and start seeking out those people whose personalities align with your business needs! Good luck!

If you have any questions on staffing self-pour locations or are interested in learning more about the technical side of things, you can get in touch with us directly at or by filling out our contact form below.


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Ambler, PA, 19002

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