How to run a bar

Luca Cordiglieri is the 2011 CLASS Best Bar Manager. Having been at the helm of the bar at China Tang at the Dorchester for two years, we asked him to reveal his secrets to running an amazing bar.

I'd characterise the way I work as democratic, I always like to consult and include the staff in the decision making progress although the final word will be mine. I strongly believe in leading by example and as a boss I'm big on discipline, timekeeping, grooming, honesty, attitude towards colleagues and guests. These are extremely important right from the early stage of the recruitment process.

I like the guests to feel that they will be looked after no matter how busy the bar is. I want them to feel they will get a seat, a great quality drink and if there any hiccups that they are dealt with promptly and efficiently. The aim is for them to leave happy no matter what.

I think a bar should be fun, I like bars where both business and leisure guests enjoy themselves, where there is a lot going on, for example the couple enjoying a drink at the same time as a group of friends having a laugh and two sets of different people start talking to each other. It makes for great people watching.

The mood of the room stems from us, the bar team, as we have to ensure that our guests are stress-free and that the only thing they worry about is paying the bill - everything else is up to us, short of drinking their drinks of course!

Personal touch is very important, treat people as they were coming to your own home, remembering their names, their likes and dislikes. I encourage the staff to recognise the guests and establish a connection with them.

I always work hard to instil a team spirit. Whether you're a manager, bartender, bar back, or waitress, everyone has to be ready to help wherever is needed and work towards maintaining high standards and exceeding expectations. I also like to create a positive environment for both staff and guests.

Happy staff = happy customers so I aim to keep the staff morale high by accommodating rota and holiday requests as much as possible,and by training, we have internal training twice a week and external training twice a month. Communication is also key and keeping them well informed about what's going on is one of my priorities.

Being an independent business inside the hotel at China Tang I don't face the challenges that I faced in previous hotels. The set up is great, the decisions are made quickly and I have one person to answer to as opposed to four or more. We have to have high standards as people expectations are very high in such great profile hotel but this is very much a positive challenge that I cherish and that keeps us on our toes.

Working in a industry that is constantly evolving and very much people-based there are always opportunities to learn new things and improve yourself. That is a big motivator but also wanting to do well springs me out of bed, not just for myself but also for the people around me. I find it incredibly satisfying to help somebody do well.

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