9 Pieces of Key Advice for Staffing for Your Venue

New York City’s industry greats spill their secrets to building a successful team & being a good leader-- only for Evolve. (Austin Paz / GettyImages)

Our Evolve series is back! This month we’re in New York City talking to industry leaders about one of the most important elements of hospitality: staff. Building a good team is the foundation of any good business – these people are the ones who represent (and run) your business day in and day out. But where do you find them, how do you train them, and what makes them stick around for the long run? The free virtual event is airing Monday at 1pm EST, you can register online here.

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All too often people say that it’s hard to find good help. But that’s the wrong attitude. What you’ll find in this month’s Evolve is that good people are out there – you just need to do the work to find them. It’s not just throwing up a post on Facebook, or blasting out a few texts. Building a community is so much more than that, it’s about creating an environment where people are inspired, and working everyday to make sure their needs are being met. It’s also about being a good leader. “If I see someone doing something wrong, I need to know – did I miss up on something? Did I leave that part of the conversation out? How do I communicate the importance, without being an asshole about it all?” says Nick Bennett of Porchlight.

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That self-awareness is key to cultivating a strong work culture. It starts with the people at the top – you set the standard for how your employees are going to act. “How I show up every day is how I can expect my team to show up,” explains Zoey D’Arienzo Vice President of Food & Beverage at STRAT Hotel Casino Resort. “They’re watching you, whether you have 12 employees or 500. So, I show up, I’m smiling, I’m having a good time and I’m happy to be here.”

Each one of our speakers offers a unique take on one of the hardest, but most vital, elements of running a successful bar or restaurant. If you register for Evolve now, you’ll get access to this episode and all of our previous sessions on demand, so you can watch anywhere and anytime.

Until then, read on to find out more about our speakers this month and what they’ll be covering.

David Benowitz

President | Craft & Crew Hospitality

“I always tell everyone I don’t care if you’re the best host, bartender, server – if you’re unable to connect with the guest and make an impact on their day, I don’t want you in our organization. In today’s market, if you’re not able to provide an exceptional experience, in my opinion, you’re not going to have a competitive advantage.”

Alex Day

COO & Partner | Gin & Luck

“Unbridled, systemized, unstructured creativity is generally useless. The idea that this artist savant just comes up with things on their own is a lie. Every musician or artist studies meticulously and gives themselves a box – or an idea – to work within. The regiment, the system, is meant to give life to creativity. That’s our goal with systemizing.”

Homan Taghdiri

Co-Founder | Invictus Hospitality 

"There are few things as important as having a great team. Yes, it can be hard to build that. You need to be a good leader, and create an environment where people feel empowered, where they can learn and grow. It's a process, but if you put in that time, it's worth it. It's one of the best things you can do for your business." 

Nick Bennett

Beverage Director | Porchlight

“It’s not so much about managing them, as it is uplifting them. Bartenders, we’re larger than life personalities. You want to foster that, because those personalities attract people into the bar.”

Steve Schneider

Principal Bartender & Partner | Employees Only
Co-Owner | Elysian Café

“One thing across the board, is having staff and management that buys into what you want to do. We’re not just trying to open up another bar, we want to open up something special each time. Having people buy into what you’re doing is very important.”

Zoey D’Arienzo

Vice President of Food & Beverage | STRAT Hotel Casino Resort

“If we can do it for a guest, why wouldn’t we? My team, they’re entrepreneurs in their bars and their outlets, day to day. And that’s how you get people to be accountable. You give them that and say, ‘This is yours. If you want to be successful, what expectations would you set there?’”

Ivy Mix

Owner | Leyenda
Founder | Speed Rack
Co-Owner | Fiasco! Wine and Spirits

“One person isn’t good at everything. I’m not very good at the business side, quite frankly. I did payroll for about a year, and it’s not my thing. I’m not good at it. My business partners, I rely heavily on them for things like that. As for delegating, I think that paying managers well is worth earning a little less of your dividends as an owner.”

Adam Teeter

Co-Founder and CEO | VinePair

“There has been a lot of at home consumption, experimentation and mixology…Bars and restaurants need to be aware of this. People aren’t going to want to come to you for the cocktails they’re making at home. People at home have perfected Negronis, Martinis and Manhattans. They’re going to come to you for the twist.”

Sean Kenyon

Bartender & Owner | Occidental
Bartender & Owner | Williams & Graham

“There’s a reason All-Star teams play together once a year. All that talent and all that ego in the same room, under one person’s direction, is going to be difficult. It’s ignoring chemistry and just taking all the top talent. My idea is to build [a staff] like a family unit, like a family of three: the oldest, middle and youngest child. You need a leader, the one who can shift either way, and a follower… They’re all driven by the same goals, they just have different methods of getting there.”

If you want to hear more from these legends, register for Evolve now. It’s totally free, and you can watch the sessions anytime.

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