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CLOSING TIME: HOW BARTENDERS RELAX AFTER WORK

‘Winding down’ after work, whether it’s 10pm or 3am, is an age-old dilemma for anyone working shifts in the service industry. We pulled up a stool to hear from a few friends on how they switch off after ‘performing’ for a few hours or more.

MIKE JORDHOY (SENIOR BARTENDER)

LULU WHITE, PARIS

WHAT PRESSURES DO YOU FACE ON A DAILY BASIS?

No matter what part of the world you find yourself in, there’s similar pressures consistent to the nature of hospitality.

Maintaining positive vibes and energy levels around guests all day, every day can be draining.

Then there’s the standard bureaucracy and random inefficiencies in deliveries that make every bartender’s life interesting! We close at 4am at weekends, so a big factor is being able to maintain the same kind of hospitality and energy at 3am as you had at 11pm.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO WIND DOWN AFTER WORK?

I’m slowly trying to convert my colleagues to this one - without much success, though. I’m a big believer in some physical exercise at the end of the night. I do around 50 push-ups, partially to exercise out any frustrations from the shift.

Decompression is key. And the best way to take the pressure off, I find, is your co-workers. Being able to talk with a few friends – about the shift, other friends or just life in general – helps my mind transition out of ‘work mode’ so I can wind down before heading home.

WHAT STEPS DO YOU TAKE TO INVEST IN YOUR HEALTH?

I like working out. I don’t always get to the gym as often as I’d like, but I’ll do 100 – 200 push-ups a day. I do pockets of 50 – waking up, before shift, after shift and before bed. It’s a really simple, but surprisingly effective, way to help keep a base level that can allow me to get back into a proper routine and helps me feel much better in general.

ANY TIPS FOR HOW TO LOOK AFTER YOURSELF IN THIS INDUSTRY?

In this game, it’s so easy to get lost in all the late nights and opportunities to party. I think rest is really important. And self-awareness – knowing when to step back and take yourself out of the game, if even only for a week or a month. Pick your battles.

Aside from that, personal fitness will leave you brighter, both physically and mentally. It’s science, duh.


AMBER BRUCE (BAR MANAGER)

THE KEEFER, VANCOUVER

WHAT PRESSURES DO YOU FACE ON A DAILY BASIS?

The bar can fill up in a few minutes and, all of a sudden, it can get overwhelmingly busy. But someone once told me: you’ve got two hands and one brain, and that’s the best you can do, so do your best and stay calm.

Being a manager, means you’re on call at all hours of the day, from early morning deliveries to late-night questions on cash-outs. Outside of the usual pressures of a standard service, I think I put a lot of pressure on myself. I’m constantly thinking about how I could do more, and so finding the balance between work hours and private hours is something I am always working on.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO WIND DOWN AFTER WORK?

I’ll usually have a cider or glass of wine at the bar, but I make sure to match it with an equal amount of water. Then when I get home, I’ll take my dog for a walk, that way she gets some exercise and I get to loosen up any tight muscles before going to bed.

WHAT STEPS DO YOU TAKE TO INVEST IN YOUR HEALTH?

We have some amazing mountains here in BC, so heading out for a hike is a great way to get some fresh air. It’s a chance to check out some peaceful, humbling views and long enduring cardio. Stretching before work is key too! Our job is already very physical, so I make sure to prep for a shift, the same way I would prep for a sport.

ANY TIPS FOR HOW TO LOOK AFTER YOURSELF IN THIS INDUSTRY?

Take time for yourself, away from the hustle and bustle. Get some good, long sleep, with your phone away from your bed.

Get some exercise. Whatever you like - yoga, boxing, hiking. Drink more water than you think you need. Develop a good sense of humour and don’t take yourself too seriously.


ANDREW JOY (OWNER/ MANAGER)

THE CARLTON WINE ROOM, SYDNEY

WHAT PRESSURES DO YOU FACE ON A DAILY BASIS?

A lot. Employment regulations, staff morale, cost management and the overall profitability of our little business. The many stresses of being an owner are often magnified by the fact I’m still on the floor, taking care of patrons on a daily basis.

The building we’re in has 5 levels, so the physical aspect of what we do is massive. It can take a real toll on you, both mentally and physically. ‘Sore legs’ is in the job description.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO WIND DOWN AFTER WORK?

After shift I try to wind down with a walk. I live nearby, so this helps. I try to avoid eating at this time, and minimise any alcohol consumption, as it disrupts rest and results in poor sleep quality.

I find reading helps to settle my mind from the days’ conversation and I like the Headspace app as a meditation tool to aid sleep.

WHAT STEPS DO YOU TAKE TO INVEST IN YOUR HEALTH?

Eating healthy can be tough when you’re always busy, but I always try. Breakfast is usually the best opportunity for me to lock down some good nutrition. My choice is oats or Muesli with fruit and yogurt.

Physically, I practice Yoga 3 times per week at least and have Shiatsu and acupuncture fortnightly. I try to run or do circuit style training, and every Tuesday morning I run circuit training in the park for any staff who would like to attend. This helps with general fitness but also provides a different social outlet other than drinking (although some people do turn up hungover).

Meditation has also become a big part of my weekly practice. It only takes 5 minutes a day and can make a huge difference, it can certainly help to curve the ‘grumpy factor’. I also try to surf at least once every 2 weeks or so, this helps to completely reset me. I couldn't imagine not having this in my life.

ANY TIPS FOR HOW TO LOOK AFTER YOURSELF IN THIS INDUSTRY?

Find something to do outside of work that is not related to hospitality. Hiking, fishing, knitting – anything. Just try and make time in your week to do something that isn’t eating and drinking. These activities, coupled with sufficient rest, cultivate a greater work/ life balance and enable you to value everything more.

HAS THE INDUSTRY CHANGED?

For sure. I know in my own business we try to be as active outside the job as we are in it. From chefs into Pilates and yoga, to FOH staff attending boxing, rock climbing etc… We often use these times as our opportunities to catch up outside of work, which is great for everyone.

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