A Bar Transformation in Small Town Georgia: Amici Monroe
Home Bar Network travels to Monroe, GA to deliver an elevated cocktail program and bar training to Amici Monroe.
When our great friend Josh contacted us to help with the bar program at his new location of beloved Georgia wing and pizza joint, Amici Monroe, we jumped at the opportunity. Josh’s first Amici location was smack dab in the middle of Monroe, Georgia, a little town about halfway between Athens and Atlanta. When a larger, more accommodating spot opened up down the street, Josh made the move. Monroe is the quintessential little Southern town with charm for days. Cute boutiques, coffee shops and ice cream joints situated between law firms and event spaces in turn of the century and antebellum buildings. The center of town even features an eternal flame monument dedicated to veterans of past wars. Monroe really is a hidden gem outside Atlanta that will undoubtedly explode with growth over the next several years.
We’re beyond excited for Amici’s newest location in Monroe and we were honored to take part in its transformation.
The new location is housed in one end of a long, partitioned warehouse structure that was once home to a general store, event space, and mill. It’s a bright, airy space that was just screaming for a fun restaurant concept.
The bar is huge — 25 feet long with a garage door at one end that can be opened to serve guests sitting outside. They’ve also built a beautiful area out back with planters, picnic tables, high tops and corn hole boards. This place is about to absolutely kill it. If it wasn’t an hour and half from where we are in Roswell, we’d be there every weekend!
When we came in to meet the bar staff, we were amazed at how excited and eager they were to learn. This isn’t always the case when consulting, as a comfortable staff can be wary of incoming changes and shaking things up. It is a testament to Josh being a great owner and hiring the right people.
When approaching Amici’s bar program, we wanted to accomplish a few specific things:
- A REAL COCKTAIL MENU: The town of Monroe isn’t exactly a haute cuisine scene, so we wanted to curate a cocktail list that was approachable, both from an ingredient and pricing standpoint, while also making sure it was legit. This meant creating a cocktail list with common components, executed uncommonly well.
- CRAFT COCKTAIL TRAINING: In order to execute the menu correctly, bar staff had to be trained from the ground up. Whether someone has been tending bar incorrectly for years, or hasn’t poured a single beer, the training is the same. We work on the fundamentals of cocktail making, cocktail theory, and the intricacies of making the perfect drink. The bar staff at Amici Monroe knocked it out of the park and we are so proud of how far they’ve come.
- FRESH JUICES, HOUSE-MADE SYRUPS: It is astonishing how many restaurants and bars don’t fresh-squeeze their own juices, whether for kitchen or bar use. Implementing this one simple step saves the restaurant money and really beefs up the freshness and flavor in cocktails and in food. Amici Monroe made the switch to all fresh squeezed juices and with the addition of a few easy to make syrups from all natural, fresh ingredients we took the bar program to new heights.
- CORRECT BAR TOOLS: Part of the challenge of making great cocktails is having the correct tools to do so. Try shaking a cocktail to the proper chill and dilution using some ragtag shaking tin you got free from a distributor coupled with an old beer glass — it doesn’t do the trick. Quality shakers, bar spoons, mixing glasses, and most important, accurate jiggers are key for cocktail consistency and implementation.
- CORRECT COSTS/MARGINS: The bar is your money-maker. Alcohol costs and margins are virtually an unknown or an afterthought to many restaurant owners and managers. Having proper margins behind the bar is key to running a successful restaurant.
- BAR ERGONOMICS/LAYOUT: Another important piece of running an efficient bar is the layout of the tools, appliances, glasses, flatware, towels, etc. Where do you put your service bar? Where do the POS systems go? Where should the dump sink go? These are all hugely important cogs in the bar machine. Even with just one or two pieces out of place, your bartenders become less efficient and therefore cost a business time and money. Oftentimes, it is important to look at this layout before you build your bar but a lot can be done to streamline things after the fact too.
- GUEST INTERACTION/BAR ETIQUETTE: The staff at Amici Monroe was trained in the foundations of great bar service, from greeting and guest acknowledgement, to small things like not leaving your purse or Starbucks cup on the back bar. We reviewed guest interaction with a fine-tooth comb to make sure the bar crowd would be well taken care of, every time.
Making sure these areas of the bar were buttoned-up has completely changed the face of Amici’s bar program, increasing efficiency of service, improving profits behind the bar, and elevating the guest experience. We are so excited to go back and visit and see how the team is doing this Fall!