Life is starting to go back to normal, and by normal, I mean pre-COVID.

Establishments are opening, people are getting vaccinated, and bartenders are returning to work. However, for the time being, things are still different. Masks are being worn, and customers still might be scared of this virus. Being a bartender is all about hospitality and customer service. When returning to work, it’s important to remember a few things, especially if you’ve been gone for some time.

As we navigate these unpreceded times, bartenders who have already returned to work offered some advice for those who are starting to head back.

Bartenders behind the Bar

Bartenders behind the Bar

For some bars, sitting directly at the bar isn’t an option. It eliminates that face-to-face connection many people have with their bartenders. Customers often come in and grab a seat at the bar, which leads to conversation and hanging out with the person behind the stick. To still develop relationships with the customer, Chilled 100 member Evren Bora gave some advice.

“If you have time to step out from behind the stick to fist bump a regular, do it! If not, you can create an experience by making the entire place run more efficiently. Focus speed, get drinks out to guests, and help run drinks (if you can). Everything you do or don’t do behind the bar affects guest experience,” says Bora.

During quarantine, Bora colored his hair pink to help him stand out a little bit more in a crowd. And since masks cover a majority of the face, he uses his eyebrow to express his emotions.

It’s important to keep in mind that bars are following the rules. As a customer, remember that even if you don’t agree with the rules, it doesn’t mean they don’t need to be followed. Being respectful rather than arguing will get you a long way.

And with the stress of being back at work and trying to readjust to the new schedules and regulations, taking care of your body is important. Bora recommends getting a massage, spending time outside, or even just an extra half hour in bed can make a difference.

Some people are still wary when it comes to going out to bars and restaurants. It’s the bartender’s and staff’s responsibility to make them feel comfortable. “If you see guests are uncomfortable, there are non-verbal ways to address it.  When I’m tableside, and I see a guest is a little apprehensive I’ll take a step back or keep my hands behind my back. Little things that make them feel safer but don’t detract from my level of service,” concludes Bora.