Interviews with Bar Owners & Managers – Johana from Bar Food
Welcome to the second installment of our new series, “Interview with a Bar Owner.” These posts feature bar owners like you, sharing industry experiences and tips, because no one knows the business better than you. So read on, learn, connect, and reflect!
The vital statistics:
Johana Cedicci owns Bar Food in Los Angeles, California. She took ownership of the 6-year-old business 3 years ago.
TH: What do you like most about being a bar owner and managing a bar business?
JC: The daily problem solving, and the knowledge that my day will never be a dull one, whether positive or negative!
TH: What is your least favorite part of running your business?
JC: Paper. So much paper. Thank goodness for my office manager who handles all of it now. I also really don’t like tech problems. Everything is online these days, so when something goes down it’s never fun!
TH: Tech problems are a total drag. It sounds like you’ve encountered a challenge or two in your time as a bar owner. Tell us about one of them, and how you handled it.
JC: Hmmm, I suppose a favorite [challenge] was a guest who got extremely inebriated after three margaritas. She claimed we’d stolen her purse. She wanted the police called and the bartender searched and really started making a fuss in the dining room. I calmed her down and stepped outside with her to discuss the matter more. She was able to retrace her footsteps to the end of the block. Where she’d put her purse down. Because she was doing cartwheels . . . . She’s since become a very well-behaved regular, and we laugh about that night now. I think that, had we fed into the heat of the moment, we would have never seen her again, but we were able to show her that we care and that we weren’t going to stop helping her (no matter her state) and that made her come back.
TH: Besides learning to manage cartwheeling customers, is there anything you wish you’d known before you became a bar owner?
JC: . . . how important carving out time for yourself is. I spent the first year eating, sleeping, and breathing Bar Food and while the hours haven’t changed, I now delegate better and get some time just for me.
TH: It sounds like having good staff members is key to carving out some “me” time. What do you look for when hiring staff?
JC: I like to think of us as one big family, but I get to choose the members! Charismatic, hard-working, sincere—those are of the utmost importance. I also try to instill the love of my business into my employees. It makes me so happy when, a couple of months into working at Bar Food, I overhear a server or bartender discussing a dish or beer with the same fervor that I describe it with. That’s the best!
TH: How do you keep staff up to date on what you’re selling?
JC: We have a Facebook employee page. I cannot take credit for it—my bartender Jessica brought the idea to the table and oh, man, has it been a lifesaver. 30 rotating tap handles, rotating happy hour craft beer and food specials. There’s a lot of information to get to many people, and this allows me to shoot out an update and see who’s read it. If you haven’t read it by end of day, I can reach out and make sure you know what’s going on!
TH: Wow! What a great way to keep staff on the same page (literally)! How do you tell new and current customers about your offerings? Does an informed customer have any impact on your business?
JC: An informed customer is a huge asset. I try to keep up on my social media presence. I see results almost instantaneously. Sometimes I’ll post about tapping a new beer and a regular will be in an hour later saying that they saw it and came right over!
TH: How do you use TapHunter, and what do you like most about it?
JC: TapHunter has made my life SO much easier. Updates that used to take 2 hours are done in seconds. I can run out of a beer and tap a new one and update it directly on my phone. I’m also able to print my ever-changing menu in a few moments. TapHunter even uses our specialized font and logo so updates are—quite literally—a click of a mouse away.
TH: We are so glad to help you get your time back, especially knowing it will be spent handling other important parts of your business. Besides TapHunter, do you use other tools/services to run your business?
JC: Oh yeah, there is so much to the equation. We analyze everything. We run dozens of reports off of our POS and have a weekly meeting to see what’s selling, what got sent back, what people didn’t like. We have a financial management company that keeps us in line with budgeting. We clean. And clean some more. The line cleaners are in every two weeks and don’t get me started on the kitchen. My staff knows that I love a clean bar inside and out and everyone respects that.
TH: Your business sounds downright sparkling! It sounds like a TapHunter visit is a must. In preparation, tell us: What is your most popular-selling drink?
JC: That’s a tough one. We carry over 250 whiskies so we sell a lot of it, but we also have an amazing happy hour that always includes a $4 craft beer offering. People love it. It’s a great way to show people a new product or style without having to commit to the high price that can come with some crazy special craft.
TH: What a great way to offer affordable experimenting for customers, especially those who are new to craft brews. Or just looking for a great drink at a great deal. Sounds like we’re headed to LA after work.
It sounds like the craft beer trend has been good to Bar Food. How has it affected your business?
JC: We live and love craft beer. We recently added six more taps and over 25 cans and bottles. I can’t get enough. We have a beer club headed by the amazing Jace Milstead that meets monthly and our beer heads are out in full force. We love craft beer and don’t see the trend doing anything but continuing to become more interesting, unique, and vibrant.
TH: A monthly beer club? Sign us up, Johana! Thanks for sharing your experiences as owner of Bar Food in LA with us. We look forward to a chance to visit!
Follow Bar Food on TapHunter to see what Johana and her crew are serving up in Los Angeles.
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