How to Bring Your Bar Back From Disaster

By Andrew Turnwall


Andrew Turnwall

November 24, 2017

Posted in Restaurant Management, Industry & Culture

No matter how much you plan, something can still go wrong.

Over the last few months, record-breaking storms have swept across the southeastern United States. The storms’ wake has brought stories of destruction and loss, but also of resilience and hope. If your establishment has been affected by natural disasters or accidents, there is a way back. We’ve talked to a few people and found some best practices for bouncing back:


Steps to rebuild your bar after disaster

  1. Get clean, get inspected
    Reopening after a crisis, whether it’s a fire, flood, or tornado, likely requires a degree of renovating and cleanup. Since you’ll have to be re-approved by a health inspector, take care to complete all renovations and cleanup before you apply for the opening inspection.
  2. Be assertive with insurance claims
    Hopefully, you had insurance coverage before the disaster happened. If so, know who to call and be persistent. In a perfect world, a quick call to your insurance agent fixes all problems and gets you the money you need to get back on your feet. In the real world, keep on top of agents. Don’t be aggressive or disrespectful, but make sure they know you’re there.
  3. Get your staff involved
    Disasters affect not just you and your business, it affects your staff as well. It will be a challenge balancing the time when your staff is back, but you aren’t taking in revenue yet. But, uniting as a team will help the whole bar get back on track.

Reconnect with your community

Following a disaster, everyone wants to get back to a sense of normalcy. That includes both your staff and the community at large. If you can, set yourself up as a meeting place for the community. Welcome people in and let them relax, charge phones if need be, enjoy themselves in a situation where joy might not be readily found. You’ll find yourself feeling better and glad for the work as well.

For your employees affected by the disaster, support them by finding work to keep their hours up, partnering with sister locations if part of a franchise, or fundraising. Keep their spirits up, and let them know that while work is important, it’s ok for them to worry about their own lives first.

Before the disaster: Four ways to prepare for the worst

Preparing for future disasters is just as important as the recovery. You can’t completely flood-proof or fire-proof a building, but you can take measures to ensure the rebuilding and recouping of any losses is easier in the future.

  1. Record and backup everything digitally
    Keep digital records of everything, such as vendor, employee, and insurance records. Not only is paper easily destroyed, but you most likely won’t have time to grab records in the moment. You should also backup those digital records on cloud software, like BackBlaze or Google Drive, to ensure recovery when hard drives are destroyed.
  2. Know what you have on hand
    If anything in your bar is destroyed, insurance will need proof of value lost. In addition to important records, keep a separate document (backed up on the cloud) of your equipment and supplies, including model and serial numbers where applicable. Keeping an exacting inventory will also help you in future claims.
  3. Get the right insurance
    Speaking of insurance, make sure you have the proper insurance. If you live in a place prone to floods or other natural disasters, look into insuring yourself against those in addition to your basic plan.
  4. Know who and how to communicate
    We’ve preached it throughout, but communication is key. Build an emergency contact list that includes insurance agents, emergency personnel, and employees. Make sure everyone knows who they are supposed to contact, and what everyone’s responsibilities are in case of emergency.

Nobody longs for the flood, tornado, earthquake, or fire to strike. But, it’s how you plan ahead and the steps you take after the disaster that will make recovery just a little bit easier.

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