Founder of PDT, the James Beard-approved bar from New York, and writer of The PDT Cocktail Book, Meehan has another book coming up. Dedicated to all professional and aspiring bartenders, it includes the nitty-gritties of running a bar and a trove of recipes.
What are the essential ingredients of a good bar?
Interesting, fun-loving guests and passionate staff make a good bar. The type and quality of cocktails is just a matter of taste. As long as you can prepare classic cocktails like a Negroni, Daiquiri and Old Fashioned proficiently, most guests will be satisfied.
What are the common mistakes that bar owners make?
They forget who they’re working for. While you work for yourself to make money and take care of your staff, your guests keep you in business. They are who you really need to work for.
What are the three unexpected things about owning a bar?
1) The world is chaotic by nature and everything naturally falls apart. As a leader, you must work actively to keep your staff, guests and investors together.
2) Your staff will all leave you, so training and recruiting good people need to be your top priority. Many operators are resentful when staff leave instead of being grateful for their service and optimistic they will be successful elsewhere.
3) Just like death, you or your successors will have to close the bar one day. Very few operators plan for this emotionally or financially, even though it’s part of the life cycle of any business.