Download Bar Cleaning, Closing & Setup Checklist for FREE

Download Bar Cleaning, Closing & Setup Checklist for FREE

When you come to a bar, you normally would just get a drink, hang out with friends and have a good time. Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes? Just like any establishment, there are people who manage the operations of the business to make sure that customers are well attended to and provided with a good atmosphere aside from the product. After all, a good establishment starts with a great management, and a well-managed bar never runs out of business.  If you want to learn how to run your bar smoothly every single day, then follow the guides below.

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What is a Bar Checklist?

Whether you are your own boss or you manage several employees in your bar, you have the responsibility to keep it smooth sailing, and by smooth sailing, we mean keeping it clean, fast and secure. And a bar checklist will help you make this happen, which looks something like this:

Running a bar is more than just selling great cocktails and other booze to thirsty customers but also giving them a show. Bars are known for having people who may be having tough times and hope that the booze will carry their problems away. If your service is slow and bland, your customers may get disappointed and angry and no one wants angry people in their bars. To make sure this scenario and other unpleasant events are prevented, there are standard procedures that must be done on a consistent and regular basis to make sure things are in order.

A bar checklist contains these procedures and other tasks to prepare for opening, during and closing the bar or operations. Not only does this bar checklist help in keeping daily operations stable but also keep the establishment comply with regulatory requirements and standards to maintain its existence and furtherance. It lets you steer clear from fines and unfortunate closure due to neglect of certain rules. Keeping a bar checklist and making sure that everything is complied with everyday will surely bring success to your bar. 

Key Practices for Successful Bar Operation

The following guides may seem a lot of stuff but all of them are necessary to keep a successful operation may it be before, during or after.As time goes by, you will get used to doing all of them and it will become a fun routine at the bar. 

Cleaning Everything

Cleaning the bar is the thing that must be done every chance you get and it must not be taken lightly. Cleanliness has a huge impact in your bar by giving your customers a good impression, keeping everything sanitary and helps you pass health inspections so your establishment can keep operating.

Usually, the most extensive cleaning stage is when the bar closes because you are basically getting ready for the next day. The front bar is where your people sit and enjoy their cocktails so the chairs must be wiped to make sure that they feel comfortable. Moving to the bar top where the drinks will be made, and where the guests rest their arms, the table or countertop must also be wiped well and sanitized. At the back bar, all your supplies like liquors, spirits, glassware,speed rails, tools and equipment are stored. 

Make sure that they stay clean by wiping spills, dust, and cleaning out the used items during the day like blenders, taps, jiggers, cocktail shakers and more then store them properly. Things that have nozzles like soda guns must be thoroughly cleaned so they won’t affect the taste of the drink. Even the things that are not used during the day like liquor bottles must be cleaned. 

The bathrooms, sink, floors, customer tables and chairs must be sweeped, mopped, wiped and sanitized. Towels must be washed and dried so they can be used again on the next day. Trash must also be properly disposed of. 

Before the bar opens, there will be less work. You just have to put everything in place, do a light wiping and sweeping of the tables and floors. And during operations, there must be constant cleaning of the most used stuff like tables, chairs, glassware, bathrooms, tools and equipment. 

Every time bottles are used, make sure to wipe the spills, every time the jigger, shaker, blender and other equipment and tools are used, they must be cleaned immediately. Trash must be taken out regularly so they won’t overflow. Lastly, bartenders and other staff must also be clean, making sure that they wash and sanitize their hands regularly especially that they are the ones handling ingredients and making the cocktails.  

Inspection of Equipment and Tools

Regular inspection of tools and equipment ensures that they will work during operation without causing interruption. They must receive high maintenance so their usage is prolonged. Equipment that need checkup include blenders, ice maker, dishwasher, juicers, and others. These things run on electricity so they need testing and inspection to prevent any hazards. 

On the other hand, tools like the cocktail shaker, jigger, muddler, glasses and others are the most used items when making drinks so they must be checked for cracks, dents and chips. You don’t want to cause any mess in the middle of a service and you certainly don’t want to serve drinks that have unwanted particles or unpleasant tastes. 

Monitoring Stock and Supplies

There is nothing more annoying than being in a busy hour and you’re reaching for an item and it’s almost out or worse, there is none at all. Upon closing the bar, ingredients and items like liquors, spirits, juices, napkins, toothpicks, straws, stirrers and others must be fully stocked to be prepared for the following day.  

This can be done during the day, when you have free time or when you are running out. Keeping an inventory is helpful in this scenario. For the cocktails and other fresh ingredients, they must be dated so you will know when they were opened and brought to the bar and to know if they are still okay to use so drinks will not be compromised.  

Keeping things organized and in stock helps the bartenders and staff provide a fast service. But, it is also important to not overstock because they tend to look messy and maybe even go to waste. Just make sure that your supplies meet the demand to keep things efficient.

Storage of Perishables

At closing time, there will be ingredients such as fruits and vegetables that are not entirely used throughout the day. To prevent any wastage, they must be properly stored in containers and put in the refrigerator so they can retain their freshness and can still be used the next day. You can implement the first-in, first-out rule so there will be no wastes. Cocktail ingredients such as soda, juices, premade mixers, premade cocktails and expensive liquors must also be stored in the refrigerator. 

Regular Observation and Interaction

Aside from bartending skills, it is also important for bartenders to possess people skills. They must have a positive attitude, confidence and respect toward  other people. One way to determine if your customers are comfortable is to observe how the staff treats them and if they are given excellent service. Observing also lets you see if your employees are adhering to the appropriate guidelines and procedures and if they need assistance, make sure they are well attended to. Interacting with customers is important to build trust, by asking how they are doing. Their input is crucial in making improvements to your bar. And if there is any trouble between customers or staff, be sure to handle the situation properly and orderly. 

Keeping the License Updated

Customers are not the only ones you need to please, but also the government or agencies. They basically decide if you should continue running your bar or not depending on your actions. If you are conforming to the rules, then you don’t have anything to worry about. Rules about renewal of licenses may vary according to state or country but what matters is that you operate accordingly to prevent fines, suspension or closure.  

Counting Money

At the end of the day, it’s time to count your earnings and secure your profits. It is important to check if the money on hand matches the record in the register. It would be better if a manager will handle money matters because if the staff or bartenders will do it, there may be chances of slipping money or theft, which destroys trust. 

To avoid this, bartenders must receive a sufficient amount of tip so they will be encouraged, satisfied and remain loyal. A proper tipping system may be in order to keep employees informed and they will know their fair share. After the counting and the distribution, put the money in a secure place like a safe. You may want to change the safe combination from time to time so no one can steal. Keep a record of daily earnings as well to keep track of it. 

Surveying the Area

The exterior matters just as much as the interior. A bar must look good in order to attract people. Even a simple design can awe the customers as long as the foundation is stable and they feel that they are safe. Check for the walls, windows, floors and furniture if they have any cracks, defects or anything that may compromise the safety of the people and damage the supplies. If there are items that need to be replaced, then replace them. If you feel that your bar is already turning to boring and old place, give it a makeover. Ambience plays a huge role in keeping your guests happy and comfortable and make them want to come back more often.

At the time of closing, you need to check the area if the bar is already free from customers. It is normal that people pass out because they have had too much to drink and because of the many people partying at the bar, you can’t know for sure if they have all gone home. To remedy this, go around the bar and check every area possible, tables, bathrooms and patios. If it is confirmed that there are no more customers, then you can commence the cleaning, counting of money and refilling. Also, make sure that televisions, lights and other utilities are turned off  so your electricity bill won’t go too high.  

Top 5 Bar Checklist

On a normal day at the bar, there are five checklists that you need to ensure that there is consistency and completeness in accomplishing tasks. They are as follows:

Bar Opening Checklist

Before a bar opens, there are a couple of things that staff and managers must check to see if they are fully ready to welcome customers. There will be light cleaning, preparing tools, setting up equipment, preparing fresh ingredients and other steps to make everything ready and in order. 

Bar Closing Checklist

Bar closing is a longer checklist than the bar opening one. Bar closing checklist ensures that everything is cleaned, stored, stocked, safe, secure and ready for closing. It also requires special attention because it is the time that the bar will be completely unattended. 

Bar Cleaning/Maintenance Checklist

There are many things to clean and maintain in the bar so this checklist may be quite extensive. It is also used any time but mostly when closing. It ensures that every tool, equipment and area is clean and intact so the guests are provided with good service and products. 

Bar Stocks Checklist

This checklist keeps track if the supplies and ingredients are sufficient for the day and to prevent interruptions from running out. 

Overall Bar Checklist

This is the checklist that monitors every other checklist. It makes sure that the other checklists are complete as well as ensuring that the employees are following the guidelines in conducting their work. It can also be supplemented with notes, comments, and evidence to address complaints if there are any, and to apply corrective measures to improve it. 


Running a business is not easy, especially if you have a lot of competitors, and the bar industry is increasingly growing. To have people coming to your bar, you have to give a great impression, in the form of clean surroundings, good service and products. As important as creating great cocktails is, it is also crucial to keep everything that is happening behind organized and stable, and a checklist is a good tool in keeping track of your actions. Cleaning takes a huge chunk of the checklist and most of them involve tools and equipment. To review yourself with the tools and equipment, you can check out this article. You can also add these awesome cocktails to your menu and impress your customers with them. 

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