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Bar Closing Checklist

Bar Closing Checklist

Last updated on 2/25/2018

Used everywhere from dives to dance clubs, a bar closing checklist is one of the best ways to make sure your business is clean, organized, and ready for the next day. These checklists include all of the bar closing duties that your staff needs to complete before leaving for the night, such as locking up, cleaning, restocking, storing, and organizing. There is some additional information you may also want to include, like where to find the keys, how to store different equipment, and which tasks each employee should complete. If you're looking for a comprehensive checklist for closing down your bar, download our bar closing checklist below.

Download Checklist PDF

Empty Out and Lock Up


For the first step of your bar closing checklist, check your restaurant for any remaining customers. Locking up should be the first step because you want to make sure everyone is out before you start cleaning and counting the money. Ensuring every one of your customers is out of the bar at the end of the night is critical not only from a courtesy standpoint, but also in terms of safety. Your staff should complete a clean sweep of your whole bar from head to toe to find any patrons that may have stuck around after last call, ignored your bouncers, or even hid to wait for your staff to leave. Here's a list of places that you should go over when closing your operation:

  • Dining areas
  • Restrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Accessible closets
  • Patio or outdoor dining area

After your staff has checked the area for any lingerers, have them lock the doors as they begin the next phase of closing for the night. While you're clearing out your bar, you'll also want to turn off any televisions, radios, or LED signs. Additionally, you can turn off some of the lights to help save on your utility bills.

Count the Money


Once you've locked up, you can begin counting the money and cleaning up for the night. Along with counting the money, you'll also need to distribute the night's tips. You should have an established tipping system in place, such as working on an individual basis, daily pools, or other ideas that distribute the money fairly. Here is a short list of things you need to do to secure your profits at the end of the night:

  • Distributing tip pool. Because many servers and bartenders make their living off tips, this is one of the most important aspects of closing your bar, as it directly impacts the morale, satisfaction, and loyalty of your staff.
  • Balancing cash registers. Make sure that the amount in the cash registers matches your orders for the night.
  • Securing money in safes. Keeping your money in a safe is one of the most secure options. You should also change your safe combination regularly to help prevent theft.

As the money is divvied up at the end of the night, keep in mind that your bartender or service staff may not be the best candidates for balancing your cash registers or handling the night's profits. This is because it's exceptionally easy for bartenders, servers, and other staff to take a little bit off the top. To prevent theft in your establishment, have your general manager handle the cash or use a management checklist to keep your books balanced accurately and honestly.

Store Perishables

Plastic Container

Storing and refrigerating perishables is an important way to save money at your bar. Every drink or ingredient that you save overnight is money going toward profits. Here is a brief list of things that should be properly stored or refrigerated at the end of the night:

  • Garnishes such as lemons, limes, oranges, and celery that are already sliced need to be refrigerated. Storing these items in plastic bags or containers can help prolong their life and freshness.
  • Cocktail ingredients such as soda, juice, and pre-made mixer need to be refrigerated.
  • After service has ended, you can refrigerate any pre-made mixed drinks such as sangria or punch.
  • You may also want to store expensive beers and liquor bottles in a refrigerator with a lock to prevent theft.

Organize and Date

Organizing your bar and kitchen is an important task, and it ensures that opening will run smoothly on the following day. Additionally, dating your food and alcohol lets you know when it was opened and if it's still good to use. It may sound like a minor consideration, but staying organized makes everything run smoother, and dating your food is essential for passing health inspections. Here are a few things you can do while closing to stay organized:

  • Date newly opened bottles of wine
  • Recycle old menus
  • Set glasses to air dry

Clean Everything

Man cleaning glassware

Cleaning is probably the most labor-intensive part of the closing checklist, but if your staff all works together, it can go quickly. When going through and cleaning your establishment, you should stress that everything needs to be cleaned, whether or not it has been used. Cleanliness is one of the prime indicators of a professional and well-managed bar space, and whether it's dust on the shelf, rings on the countertop, or a napkin that didn't make it to the trash, unclean appearances can speak volumes about your business, particularly to health inspectors. Here is a short list of important cleaning tasks that need to be completed every night:

  • Wipe down countertops
  • Wipe down the soda gun
  • Clean out soda gun holsters
  • Remove clogs from floor drains
  • Wipe down your speed rails
  • Clean the outside of liquor bottles if any product has spilled
  • Load the dishwasher and clean glassware
  • Drain off dirty dishwater and scrub down your sink
  • Wash other smallwares like muddlers, jiggers, and stirrers
  • Wipe down beer taps and thoroughly clean them once a month
  • Sweep the floors in the front- and back-of-house, then mop
  • Clean out blenders
  • Clean the bathrooms thoroughly

We carry a wide range of cleaning chemicals and glass saniziter, which makes nightly cleanup go much more quickly. These are some of the most important things to clean in your bar or nightclub every night.

Refill Disposables

Refilling disposables behind the bar can help save time when opening the following day and keep your bartenders quick on the draw during service. Any single-use product should be stocked for the next day, no matter how inconsequential it may seem. Here is a list of a few disposables that need to be refilled every day:

  • Toothpicks
  • Parasols
  • Stirrers
  • Straws
  • Napkins

A bar closing checklist is imperative to maintaining the sanitation, organization, and streamlined operation of your business. Writing down your own bar closing duties ensures your staff has constant access to the established protocol and procedures and closing runs smoothly every time. Whether you're training new hires or providing a refresher for seasoned veterans, a bar closing checklist is a great tool to make your bar more efficient. If you're looking for a more comprehensive guide to closing that you can check off each night, download our bar closing checklist.

Download Checklist PDF

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