What can your business learn from a bar?

What can your business learn from a bar?

First, what is Bar Marco? Let’s start with the location; in a section of town where visitors are unlikely to discover, resides an establishment that portrays an old fashion gratitude and spirit of service, when the provider knew and understood the buyer, with sophistication of the modern era. If you’ve been to Pittsburgh in the last five years, you may have noticed that the city is now a blend between the blue-collar manufacturing legacy and a new revival of energetic luminaries. The contrast is stark, but the blend is symbiotic. In that same spirit of “blending,” Bar Marco has established itself as one of the premier cocktail bars in America, according to a recent Thrillist assessment (and me…an inexperienced one-time patron).

People (employees) are a company’s greatest asset…they are the prerequisite for the next most important asset: customers (also people)

Bar Marco has abolished tips and low hourly wages, opting for a revolutionary restaurant business practice of providing a salary to its workers, with healthcare and benefits. This is a reflection of the “energetic luminaries” residing in the Steel City, who challenge the status quo and seek out better ways of doing things. Further, they have a profit sharing model, so the employees are invested in the success of the business. Since Bar Marco’s business relies on satisfying customers, it’s logical that compensation would be tied to business performance, as opposed to tips. Why has it taken so long for people to figure this out? This philosophy pays homage to the once powerful Steel workers unions that stood up for workers’ rights and argued for fair compensation.

For more about the investment Bar Marco has made on its people: (click here)

Know your customer

As for satisfying customers, Bar Marco made a bold move in omitting a cocktail menu. Every drink is customized for the individual customer, based upon their preferences. When you sit at the bar, the friendly bartender asks you “what do you like?” From there, they customize a drink. If you ask what it’s called, they’ll ask what your name is and there’s your answer. Good luck replicating it, though! Think about the implications here: there isn’t a preset, one size fits all cocktail – it’s a personalized blend of your preferences.


Imagine if organizations took this same approach to understanding their customers? You’ve heard the buzzword “customer-centric,” but often times, it’s a meaningless catch phrase. Getting inside the mind of your customer is really the only way to be customer centric. While it might be a ridiculous notion to throw away a product list, the exercise would force you to focus on the customer’s needs, instead of trying to force something down their throat, in hopes that it satisfies their needs and desires.

Whether you enjoy spirits or not, you can appreciate the forward-thinking business practices of Bar Marco. More importantly, what can business learn from this revolutionary establishment?


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