By Ray Foley, Heather Dismore

Accidents happen in bars. But the root of breakage is disorganization. If your staff is organized and working together, your food is coming out of the kitchen on time, and your dish area is tidy, you’re much less likely to sustain breakage than if everything is chaotic.

Breakage is an expense that you probably can’t eliminate, but you can take steps to control it.

  • Install magnetic flatware catchers on your trash cans in the dish area. You’d be amazed at the amount of flatware that gets thrown away in bars and restaurants. You can also put a sign near the garbage cans: “What are you throwing away?”

  • Only buy glassware with the appropriate washing rack. Using the wrong racks invites breakage, especially if the glasses have long stems.

  • Organize your dish area so that plates, china, flatware, and so on are neatly stacked coming in and going out.

  • Use rubber mats in the dish area and storerooms where glass items, from stemware to liquor bottles, are stored. A simple thing can go a long way toward getting more bounce for your buck.

  • Hire quality employees, and train and communicate with them. Educate them about your values. Reward them for following the rules you set up.

Assess what hard goods (such as plates, glasses, and the like) you’re buying on a regular basis. Some items are more delicate and prone to breakage than you may have originally thought. If the breakage is too much, you may have to change what you’re serving in.

Another form of breakage amounts to theft. Verifying that a broken bottle of liquor really was broken is important. Otherwise employees may “drop” bottles right into their lockers. Make sure you save all broken bottles and know your suppliers’ return policies. Some will credit your account if you produce the unopened (albeit broken) top of the bottle. If the seal is intact, you may be in luck.