Refining Your Bar’s Culture

Culture 101

Employees tend to be more innovative in a mission-driven work environment, according to recent studies. Does your team understand your bar’s mission, purpose and core values? A seminar at the Bar Convent Brooklyn industry convention on June 13 offered some tips on creating and conveying a company culture.

You can start by articulating your core values, said Thomas Hansen, a senior consultant at hospitality services and coaching firm Barmetrix. This is a concise list of what makes your business/team great.

Core values are “what we need to do and how we need to them,” he noted. You should hire for them, fire against them and be prepared to take a significant financial hit to protect these core values.


Midnight Rambler had a training manual when it opened three years ago, said Christy Pope, who operates the Dallas craft cocktail bar with partner Chad Solomon. “But as time went on, we found that the manual and core values weren’t connecting anymore.”

Midnight Rambler Core Values


So Midnight Rambler honed in on better defining core values. In a nutshell, Pope said, “Our purpose is to uplift spirits and elevate drinking culture.”

Uplifting spirits—a double entendre—is why people come into a bar: “They should leave happier,” she noted. “And ‘elevate’ speaks to us as bartenders, owners and servers to create the best product that we can.”

How did the bar convey the refined mission and core values to staff? “Our music program is inherent to Midnight Rambler,” Pope said. So they created a play list using song titles to convey the points.

Midnight Rambler Core Value Play List
1) Get Down With It (Little Richard). Commit to excellence—go all in.
2) Get On The Good Foot (James Brown): Choose the “hard right” thing, not the “easy wrong.”
3) The Nitty Gritty (Shirley Ellis): Revel in the details—the devil is in the details.
4) I Want More (Can): Cultivate knowledge through curiosity; always be improving.
5) Dance (ESG): Bring joy and passion to the journey; be someone that others want to work with.
6) I Get Lifted (George McCrae): Forge the Rambler tribe.

Thanks to the new program, employees are more in line with Midnight Rambler’s defined mission, Pope said. “We’re going to make patches of the play list ‘records,’ and give to employees when they demonstrate a core value,” she added.