Having been both a bartender and a server (I’m currently a combination of both), I can’t say one is necessarily better than the other. But, there are definitely pros and cons to weigh up on either side. What are the pros and cons of bartending vs. serving at a bar or restaurant?
There are some bartenders who would never serve, and vice versa. This is a subject people will have lots of opinions on. So, if you’re in the rare position of choosing your role in a new place, or have been offered a change in your current job, read on for some of our thoughts on each of these vital front of house positions.
The Pros of Serving
Ah, serving. Almost everybody does it at least once. It truly is a great way to earn some cash while still pursuing other goals. However, just like bartending, it can be a grueling job.
You May Get to Leave Earlier
While bartenders often work until 4 in the morning, most serving jobs, at least in my experience, tend to have more normal hours.
There can be a lot of pressure on bartending. You’re expected to create regulars, chit chat all day long, and hold down the fort should there be any issues. Sometimes serving can be a bit less emotionally taxing.
Serving is one of the most flexible jobs out there. There’s always someone to cover you or extra shifts to pick up if you need the cash.
The Cons of Serving
Long, Long Hours
A server’s hours can be punishing. From doubles to “clopens” (when you close at night and open the next morning), this is definitely a role where you might be a bit (read: a lot) tired.
Depending on the place, a server may make less money than their bartending counterparts. At the bar people throw cash at you like it’s going out of style. Meanwhile, the couple on a date at table 40 may not spend as much.
Now, this is absolutely not to say that servers don’t deserve all the respect in the world, because they do. But, it has been my experience that bartenders are more respected by both customers and management alike.
The Pros of Bartending
Show Me the Money
Bartenders can make bank. I know many that make more money than the professionals they’re serving during happy hour. If you can stomach the hours and stress, working behind the stick can be extremely lucrative.
A Social Job
Bartenders get to talk all day, every day. If you work in a place with great customers and staff, it can be the perfect job for all you social butterflies. You’ll also never want for friends, or a date for that matter.
Free Time During the Day
There’s nothing quite like running errands at 2pm on a Wednesday when the rest of the world is at work. When you have your days free it’s super easy to do things like schedule doctor’s appointments and work on any other non-restaurant related goals.
The Cons of Bartending
Working Very Late
Yeah, having days free is great. But, if you’re working until 4am, you might just spend them sleeping. Shift work is hard. You’ll be fighting grogginess and fatigue so taking care of yourself is key.
It’s All on You
Sometimes it’s hard to be Ms. Personality all the time. When you’rE working behind the bar, you’re expected to not only be pleasant but actively engage with your customers. This can be tough if you’re having an off day.
People are Annoying
When you’re serving, it’s easy to walk away from a creepy customer or someone that won’t shut up. When you’re stuck behind the bar, it’s way harder to escape. You’ll see the same faces over and over again, some of which you may not love.
Have you been both a bartender and a server? Let us know your thoughts!