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What does a Bar Supervisor do?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A bar supervisor is a member of the staff at a bar responsible for keeping operations running smoothly and addressing customer service concerns. One bar may have several supervisors who handle different shifts under the supervision of a manager, or a bar supervisor may act like a manager, handling all issues personally. The arrangement usually depends on the size of the business.

Bar supervisors generally look after inventory, making sure that things are ordered in a timely fashion and keeping an eye out for signs of spoilage and theft. They can also be involved in hiring and firing decisions, as well as managing the staff. Bar supervisors can write staff schedules, handle requests for vacation time, arrange coverage when people are ill, provide information about employee benefits, train new employees, and generally monitor the staff for signs of problems.

In a bar that also serves snacks and food, the bar supervisor can be involved in menu development, hiring cooking staff and servers, keeping the kitchen inventory stocked, making arrangements for repairs to kitchen equipment, and related activities. Bar supervisors can also be tasked with food safety training for employees and may be required to monitor conditions in the kitchen to confirm that things are handled appropriately, in accordance with the law and food safety recommendations.

Another aspect of a bar supervisor's work is dealing with members of the public. People with questions or complaints usually want to talk to a supervisor, and the bar supervisor may have the authority to bend the rules if necessary to keep customers satisfied. Thorough knowledge of the bar's policies, as well as legal and safety issues, is expected of bar managers so they can deal with customer requests appropriately and in a timely fashion. Good people skills are a very helpful asset to have when looking for jobs in hospitality in general, but especially in supervisory positions where people will have to be involved with customer service issues.

This type of work often comes with irregular hours. Bar supervisors need to be able to be on their feet for extended periods of time and usually do not have access to benefits like childcare. Some benefits may be provided through work at larger establishments, but usually retirement benefits and health care are not offered. People in supervisory positions may have opportunities for advancement like the possibility of becoming the head manager or managing a bar at another location.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Practical Adult Insights researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By Esther11 — On Jul 15, 2011

My nephew worked for five years as a server in a nice family restaurant. He was then promoted to day manager. He loved the job. For the most part, his customers were friendly and courteous. He didn't have many problems with the employees that he managed. But one day his boss told him that business had really slacked off and he would be laid off.

He was very unhappy, but needed a job right away. The only job he could find was night manager in a bar. Working at the bar was a whole different ball game than at the family restaurant. He was able to handle the day to day tasks. But as more customers came in, the noise and boisterous behavior escalated.

The employees seemed nice, but they got stressed out by the demands of the customers. He lasted two weeks and then had to quit. It takes a special kind of person to do well as a bar supervisor.

By lovealot — On Jul 15, 2011

Despite the many diverse duties and responsibilities of a bar supervisor, I think the job provides a strong foundation for other jobs in the future. It's a good training field for learning to deal with customers with complaints, and those on the edge of emotional outbursts. You can learn great people skills.

Just like any manager of a food or drink place, you have to deal with employee issues - for example, scheduling, pay, training, and many others. The difference is most bars have a different atmosphere and noise level.

It's hard work and usually doesn't pay real well. But we all have to pay our dues. For the right kind of person, it's a great stepping stone to better jobs in the future.

By Azuza — On Jul 14, 2011

@strawCake - I don't think I'd enjoy the job of bar supervisor myself. However, I think it sounds like it would be good for someone who thrives on social interaction and multitasking. I know there are people like that out there that would probably love this job!

By strawCake — On Jul 14, 2011

I worked at several bars when I was in college and I can unequivocally say I would never, never, want to be a bar supervisor. It is one of the most thankless jobs ever! You deal with all the complains from the customers, the employees, and the higher ups! And quite frankly you could probably make more money just being a bartender.

The only reason to take a job as a bar supervisor is if you eventually want to own your own bar or become a general manager. If you're preparing for a career in the hospitality industry I think a job as a bar supervisor would be helpful. But for anyone else, I don't think it's worth it.

By letshearit — On Jul 13, 2011

@lonelygod - I can only imagine how hard it is to work as a supervisor where your customers are getting drunk. The last time I went out for a night of fun I remember some wasted frat boy shouting at a bar supervisor and being removed shortly afterward by bouncers.

I am not positive but I think one of the duties of a bar supervisor or manager is to step in when someone needs to be removed. From the looks of things the bar tender cut the guy off as he was too drunk and he decided to argue. Next up, the bar supervisor is forced to go over and try and settle things down with the bouncers.

By lonelygod — On Jul 13, 2011

One of my best friends works as a bar supervisor/manager at one of the bigger bars in our city. She finds the job a lot of fun but it does have quite a few ups and downs.

My friend thinks the best thing about being in a supervisory position is the ability to help plan and implement fun events at the bar like karaoke nights and various competitions. I really think to do that you need to have a good imagination.

In regards to dealing with customers, that can be a tough one. Like any bar, the chance of your customer having had one too many is pretty likely. She calls the cops to her bar at least two or three times a week to deal with unruly people.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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