What Is A Barback? Job Role and Responsibilities, Explained

If you’ve ever sat at a bar and watched the bartenders at work, you’ve probably also noticed another figure scurrying around behind the bar. 


Barbacks assist the bartenders with opening and closing responsibilities, preparing and serving beverages, stocking, performing minor repairs, punching orders into the bar POS system, and conversing with customers who have inquiries. Barbacks, like bussers, play a more behind-the-scenes function at the front of the house and are critical to the bar’s profitability. 

Keep reading if you’re planning to build a bar or want to optimize operations at your current one. In this piece, we’ll look at what a barback is, how much a barback makes, and some of the most typical barback jobs.

What Is A Barback? 

A barback may appear to be a thankless job on the surface. It’s hardly the most glamorous bar job, whether they’re refilling the bar, folding napkins, marking off bar opening and closing protocols, or replacing kegs. However, barbacks are the backbone of your bar team.

Barback is a junior position for someone who aspires to be a barista, bartender, or even a bar manager in the future. Barbacks typically perform simple jobs and assist more experienced bar employees until they are ready to accept orders, serve clients, and make drinks without supervision.

Barbacks are well-organized service specialists who help bartenders maintain their serving areas and tidy. These people are competent and proactive. They anticipate supply demands based on service activity and keep the bar’s service area clean so customers may enjoy their time and employees can give quick and efficient service.

Restaurant owners should note that barbacks must be legally permitted to work in a bar where alcoholic drinks are offered and consumed. They should also be ready to work shifts, including nights, weekends, and holidays.

Barbacks frequently assist bartenders in opening and closing the bar. They make sure that glassware, stirrers, mixers, filters, and other bartending instruments are clean and positioned correctly for bartenders. Their duties could also include cleaning up spills, sweeping floors, taking out the trash, and occasionally cleaning the restrooms. 

Key Duties And Responsibilities 

Barbacks assist bartenders and waiters behind the scenes during their shifts. They also help with the opening and closing of the bar. Here’s an overview of what people may expect from their shifts:

  • Set up the bar
  • Maintaining the bar during their shift
  • Managing the bar inventory and restocking the bar
  • Bringing dishware from the kitchen to the bar
  • Assist bartenders during rush hours
  • Remove trash and mop spills
  • Prepare garnishes for the bartender
  • Help with the POS system to punch orders
  • Clean counters and glassware
  • Keep napkins, straws, and coasters available at hand
  • Refill ice bins
  • Clean rags throughout the shift

In addition to the responsibilities listed above, some bar patrons will be responsible for cleaning and maintaining the restrooms. A bar backer’s job is to assist the bartender(s) in their duties.

A barback interacts with clients because they are on the floor, whereas a bartender does not, enabling them to communicate critical information to security and the bartenders. Although barbacks are frequently seen across the bar, they aren’t there to interact with customers; instead, they are there to ensure that the bar runs smoothly and is well stocked. 

By delegating these tasks to your barbacks, you’re developing team members with the knowledge and abilities required to run a bar. As a result, it’s critical to have a system for team members who wish to advance.

How Much Are Barbacks Paid? 

Bartenders are often paid hourly plus tips. The minimum tipped income varies by state, but according to Glassdoor, barbacks’ national average yearly income is $27,316, excluding tips. Most restaurants tip their bartenders, which can result in their earning more than non-tipped roles such as chefs and dishwashers.

Barbacks can make a lot of money if they work in a crowded club or bar. A barback’s income will not be as high as a bartender’s, but it will be far more than any non-tipping role, such as chef or security.

Barbacks usually collaborate with bartenders. Barbacks, like bartenders, can collaborate with other bar members or restaurant personnel, such as servers. According to Bars and Bartending, every bartender will tip out all the barbacks at the end of the shift, anywhere between 1-2 % of sales or 5-20 % of tips. If a busy bartender receives $200-300 in tips each night, the tip out could range between $10 and $60. Now increase that by the number of bartenders and the number of days per week the barback works. 

You get the idea.

Skills To Look For In A Barback 

Barbacks are frequently the team’s inexperienced members. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to accomplish it. A competent barback will hold the ship afloat while no one notices a problem. The most common requirement for a barback is to be of legal age to serve alcohol in your bar.

Different regions have different laws, so check your state’s law. Here are some other qualities to look for in a barback:

Hard Skills

  • Organized
  • Hygienic
  • Good Communication Skills
  • Physically Strong
  • Good Memory
  • Energetic
  • Process-Oriented
  • Working in a fast-paced atmosphere 
  • Basic understanding of bar menu items and recipes.

Soft Skills

  • Punctual
  • Attentive
  • Good Conversationalist
  • Adaptive
  • Alert and Quick

It is critical to select a committed barback who will uphold your company’s image and share your mission of offering first-rate customer service. A superb barback will have the characteristics and experience that indicate the highest level of bartending abilities and certifications.

How To Hire A Barback

Because most bars are open from the evening until the early morning final call, barback positions will most likely require working unusual hours. As a result, this employment will suit persons with other obligations throughout the day or who wish to pursue a bartending career. Employing a barback should be a top priority if you want to relieve pressure on your bartenders.

Hiring A Barback

Hiring a barback that takes pride in their job and has a good attitude can help your organization quickly achieve higher income and repeat clients while promoting team togetherness.

Type of Barback: Before developing a barback job description or interviewing individuals, you must determine whether you require a full-time, freelance, part-time, or contract barback. If you need a bartender for a particular occasion, such as a wedding, private party, or business event, freelance or contract bartenders are a viable alternative. On the other hand, full-time bartenders may be a better alternative if you own a busy restaurant or bar and need someone to pour drinks regularly.

Recruitment Method: Consider experimenting with a few hiring tactics to discover the appropriate barback for your company. Post your barback position online to locate and attract competent bartender prospects, or chat to your suppliers and industry contacts. An ad in your business’s window might also inform customers and passers-by that you’re hiring.

Job Description: A comprehensive job description is essential for hiring a qualified barback for your available position. A barback job description clearly defines the work, a complete list of activities and responsibilities, and the position’s needed and desired skills. You may also wish to include information regarding the physical demands of the role, as well as the required availability.

Interviewing Candidates: Bring in your top barback applicants for an interview after examining their credentials and asking comprehensive questions better to understand their qualifications, accomplishments, and objectives. Top candidates for barback positions will be self-assured while answering questions about bartending duties.

Training A Barback

Teaching barbacks the ropes is essential even if the recruit is an experienced barback. Doing this is your chance to lead the barback the ins and outs of your establishment while introducing them to the bartending team.

  • Make a list of the products that must be stocked at all times
  • Introduce your barback to the rest of your staff
  • Educate them on what needs to be cleared regularly, for example, the garbage bin
  • Provide proper health and safety training to complete these activities safely
  • Encourage your new barback to inquire
  • Learn the beverages menu from your new bartender
  • Make a mentor available to your new barback

A formal training program will make your barback feel like they’re part of the team. Feeling valued is important in the barback role because barbacks frequently work behind the scenes doing unappreciated work; thus, despair may quickly set in.

A barback’s employment is fast-paced and physically demanding. It can also feel unsatisfying because coworkers constantly request that they get the supplies. As a result, not everybody is cut out to be a barback. 

Most people are motivated to work as a barback since it gives vital training for becoming a bartender. As a barback, many bartenders learned the profession’s fundamentals and the ins and outs of a bar’s functions.

Found on The Restaurant Times

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