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Life in the service industry: Once a bartender, always a bartender

Last updated October 05, 2023 · By Dylan Blake

We've all been there: you're at a party. There's gin, dry vermouth, and olives out on the table. The only bartender—current or former—at the party is you.

Does anybody besides you every make the martinis?

Hell no.

There are a lot of challenges to working in the service industry (which we've covered in previous editions), but this is one we don't often think about: if you've spent meaningful time as a server or bartender, you never really turn off your server/bartender mind.

You look at everything through the lens of being a bartender or server—is somebody struggling to clear the table after Christmas dinner? You'll stack and clear the dishes. In a small group chatting? You catch yourself checking to see if anybody's glass is empty.

As both Marcus Aurelius and Shaun Mcguire (bartender extraordinaire and coach), say, a boxer is always a boxer because he’s always got his weapons—his fists.

We're like a boxer because we've always got our weapon too: our head-on-a-swivel attention to whether anyone needs anything.

In this week's interview Shaun talks about how important it is to create a distinction between You and You the Bartender, because if you don't proactively work at it, you're always going to be You the Bartender. And that's not going to get you in a good place in either your life or your relationships.

Check out the interview clip to hear more from Shaun:

2 unique strategies for service industry folks to cut back on drinking

Last updated September 06, 2023 · By Dylan Blake

Shaun McGuire has bartended in and around Peekskill, NY for years. He knows the community, has a ton of regulars, and has become legit friends with some of them (gone to their weddings, etc.)

This is of course great. As Shaun says, "as a bartender people are paying to spend time with you," and that feels good.

But there's a risk to the lifestyle too, and it's something most—if not all—bartenders deal with at some point: it's very easy to drink too much because there's always an excuse to have a drink.

Beer store owner: I'm not obsessed w/ biz growth

Last updated September 06, 2023 · By Dylan Blake

Nick Wendowski and his wife bought Stone's Beer & Beverage in 2019. They had no experience in the industry and Nick's qualifications didn't go beyond liking good beer.

But after years in the corporate world, he realized he wanted something more meaningful out of his career. For him and his wife, that meant owning businesses in their home neighborhood. This would allow them to provide services (plural because his wife runs a yoga studio down the street) to their neighbors and feel like they were making a positive contribution to the community they love. Not to mention eliminating their commute and spending more time with one another.

How they bought the beer store is a long and winding tale involving a couple years, long nights, and a single beer with the store owner (check out the video clip for more on that), but the most compelling thoughts Nick shared came when I asked him about his 5-10 year vision for the business.

Here are some takeaways:

Make your QR Menus a top marketing channel

Last updated August 31, 2023 · By Dylan Blake

What started as a menu necessity during Covid has sneakily become one of the best marketing channels available to bars and restaurants. That's right: I'm talking about QR Menus, those little black-and-white squares you saw basically nowhere in the US prior to spring/summer 2020.

Here's how Rob Austin, a marketing expert who runs marketing for Leader Bar in Chicago, explains the marketing opportunity offered by a robust QR Code Menu system:

Here's how to take good photos for your bar, restaurant, or brewery's social media profile

Last updated August 17, 2023 · By Dylan Blake

Given how visually driven social media is, it's essential to have good photos that catch customers'—and prospective customers'—eyes. But taking good photos is hard, especially if you don't have any training. Where should you take the photos? When? How many? How often?

Enter Rob Austin, who has a background in photography and videography and now runs marketing for Leader Bar in Chicago. We picked Rob's brain for easy tips (that anyone can do) on how to take great social media photos, and he gave us nine great ones:

Untappd for Business price increase

Last updated August 02, 2023 · By Dylan Blake

Published Spring 2023

In Winter 2021 Untappd for Business increased their price from $599 to $899 (a 50% increase). Less than 2 years later, they have now adopted a new two-tier pricing structure: Untappd for Business Essentials ($899/year) and Untappd for Business Premium ($1199/year).

The limitations built into this new two-tier system mean many businesses who were previously at $899/year will have to move up to $1199/year to keep using Untappd the same way they had been.

Untappd for Business: The Definitive Guide

Last updated August 02, 2023 · By Dylan Blake

Use this guide to learn about Untappd for Business and to consider whether it's right for your business.

👉 Update Spring 2023: Untappd for Business now has two tiers: Untappd for Business Essentials ($899/year) and Untappd for Business Premium ($1199/year). Previously, Untappd for Business increased their price from $599 to $899 (a 50% increase) in Winter 2021.

The limitations built into the new two-tier system mean many businesses, who were previously at $899/year, will have to move up to $1199/year to keep using Untappd the same way they had been.

BeerMenus, a popular Untappd alternative with many of the same features (and many others that Untappd does not offer), costs $599 per year.

BeerMenus is in no way affiliated with Untappd for Business.

Bartenders & servers: 4 step process for getting your finances under control

Last updated August 02, 2023 · By Dylan Blake

In our last 2 newsletters we've featured advice from Shaun McGuire, a bartender extraordinaire and service industry expert who coaches bartenders on work/life balance, finances, etc. (Learn more about that part of his life on his website,

That last point—finances—is the focus of Shaun's advice this week, specifically how bartenders, servers (and anyone else, really) can go about wrangling their finances.

In short, if it feels like you just can't get ahead of your spending, this week's interview is for you.