On the surface, a barback can seem like a thankless job. Whether they’re restocking the bar, folding napkins, checking off bar opening and closing procedures, or changing kegs, it’s certainly not the most glamorous bar gig. But in reality, barbacks are your bar team’s backbone.
Barbacks are often the least experienced members of your team. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give them the training support they need. Here are six skills every barback should master and how you can train them up.
1. Bar setup and bar breakdown
To educate them on your bar setup, assign them a shift where they get to setup and break down the bar. Learning by doing is a great way to show them your procedures in action.
2. Cleaning and polishing glassware
Have your new barback polish and clean glassware on your bar. This is a great opportunity to educate them on the different types of glassware and when to use them.
3. Running dishes from the kitchen to bar patrons
As support members of your bar team, barbacks are often assigned to run dishes from the kitchen. This will help them learn more about your food program and get acclimated to the flow of a shift.
4. Maintaining the bar during a shift
Whether it’s refills on non-alcoholic beverages or regularly cleaning the bartop, there are many steps of service that a barback can fill during a shift. Taking orders should be limited to your bartenders to prevent miscommunication. However, simple tasks like clearing plates and glassware help barbacks understand how to manage the flow of a guest’s visit.
5. Pouring beer or wine if your bar team is slammed
Learning how to correctly pour beer and wine is a critical base skill for most bartenders, but it’s also a great training tool for barbacks. This might not be appropriate for a new barback, however. Make sure they’re legally of age to serve alcohol and you’re confident with their skill level.
6. Managing inventory and restocking the bar
Product flies everywhere during a busy shift. Barbacks play an essential role restocking the bar. Handling deliveries and inventory organization will teach them where all of your items live on the bar and how much to stock for each shift.
By giving your barbacks these responsibilities, you’re building team members who have the skills and understanding needed to run a bar. So it’s important to have a structure in place for team members who want to move up the ranks.
Schedule training shifts or start them on slower days to avoid overwhelming them. Also try training a new barback and bartender at the same time to make the transition easier for the whole team. When everyone sees the opportunities for advancement, it strengthens the bar team’s morale. Who knows? Your next star mixologist could be the scrappy barback.