The Effects of Unusual Bar Environments at Work

By Reggie Woo


Reggie Woo

December 15, 2016

Posted in Restaurant Management, Industry & Culture

Most people have certain expectations when coming into a bar.

To drinkers, bars will often strive to separate themselves from the rest of the pack, whether it be through their offerings or the character of their environment. For new hires, they can create incentives through avenues for growth and freedom of personal expression at the bar. But what if a bar has to overcome something that already inherently separates them from the rest?

Meet Curio, a bar recently opened in Denver, CO by the trio of Katsumi Yuso Ruiz, Stephen Julia, and Stuart Jensen. Meet the Denver Central Market, the space they share alongside over 10 other vendors. Having been awarded use of the space’s liquor license, Curio serves cocktails, wine, and beer to all of the patrons of the market. Did I mention that Curio is open at 11:00am during the week and 10:00am during the weekend? (And they don’t serve food at all.) If you ask any bar professional, this is not a normal work environment.

There are many logistical challenges that Katsumi, Stephen, and Stuart faced just from the circumstances of their unique location inside the marketplace and their unusual hours of operation. For example, most of their bar staff would have a harsh adjustment to not having the morning to recover from the previous shift. This could undoubtedly cause friction for some of their staff. However, there are many smart ways that the owners tackled those problems.


Running Curio under an open management style, the co-owners work with the belief that all of the staff should have a clear understanding of the numbers and how the bar is doing. They also heavily emphasize staff training and encourage their bartenders to create drinks to add to the menu. This method generates a more in-depth product knowledge, greater personal investment from the staff into the establishment, and even helps to curb problems with turnover.

Another obstacle that came from their operating space was starting with a limited storage area for their inventory. They also understood that, with their operating hours, staff members wouldn’t have as much downtime to devote to tasks like inventory and ordering. Needing to get efficient with the limited man-hours, the owners looked to invest into BevSpot as a technology-based solution to make up for that lost time before opening Curio. BevSpot also served as a platform to further their goals of in-house staff development, offering free tools like the Drink Price Calculator for their staff to build and price their own drinks.

The lesson learned here is that being smart about your physical limitations and logistical challenges can pay dividends in achieving towards your goal with your establishment. With their ethical and effective management style and looking for innovative answers, Curio has been able to fully take advantage of their unique working environment and is in stride to become the world-class neighborhood spot in Denver that they strive to be. Check out their full BevSpot story and subscribe to the blog for more industry insights.


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