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Path of the Bartender: Back in My Day

August 12, 2009 By: Gary Regan

Doncha just hate it when some old fart starts a conversation with, “Back in my day…?” Get ready to hate me, then, cos I've been a hearing rumblings about something that's apparently been going down a lot recently, and it would never have happened Back in My Day.

The particular nastiness that I'm talking about here is bartender theft.  No, I'm not talking about bartenders stealing from the register; I'm referring to the practice of bar owners stealing bartenders from other joints.

This, in my opinion, is unacceptable behavior. If you own a bar, and you need a bartender, then you might ask your present staff if they know anyone, you could post a want ad in the newspaper, hell, you could place an ad in this very bulletin, but poaching bartenders from other bars is a very naughty thing to do.

Nuances are involved here, of course, and I guess I should point out that each incident should probably be judged on its own merits. If a bartender who works down the street from your joint, for instance, hears that you're looking for new blood, and if s/he is looking for a change of scenery and approaches you, then I don't think that there's much wrong with hiring them. It might be a good idea, though, with appropriate timing agreed on between you and your new hire, to call the owner of the joint s/he's leaving, in order to explain how it went down.

The kind of behavior that's totally unacceptable, though, is the practice of going into someone else's bar, spotting someone great behind the stick, and offering them a premium to quit their job and come work for you. It's not illegal, but it's sure as hell unethical. If you do this sort of thing, you're certainly not walking the Path of the Bartender.

One last thought before this old fart shuts up about this subject: If you steal a bartender from someone else's place, guess what you're teaching that bartender? That's right. You're teaching your new bartender that, in your opinion, it's OK to steal. How cool is that?


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