‘You’re everything from a guidance counsellor to a maintenance guy!’ – Life as a Dublin bar manager

Ross Logan and Tom Kerrigan perform very similar roles, but the eras in which both learned their trades couldn’t be further apart.

Logan manages The Lucky Duck bar on Aungier Street, a brand new venue which opened earlier in 2018.

Kerrigan has been in the bar game for 44 years and is a bar manager at Toners pub on Baggot Street. Toners got their first license in 1818.

What does it take to be a bar manager?

Ross: You have to know all the areas. Starting from the start is important, learning the different jobs that are performed within a bar, from waitresses to bar backs. A lot of people come into a job in a bar wanting to be behind the bar straight away, but you have to work your way around first to get to that stage. You also have to get things functional within the place.

RossLogan_CreditToIan Curran
Ross Logan works in the Lucky Duck on Aungier Street // Ian Curran

Tom: It certainly takes a lot of patience! You are the first person both customers and staff want to consult with problems. It’s a lot of responsibility which becomes easier to deal with when you gain experience.

What do you try to achieve in your own work?

Ross: I like to always keep everything clean and tidy, from cocktails shakers to having all the shelf bottles in the right places. If you know where everything is and everything that is going on, I find this makes your day a lot easier.  I think a good manager doesn’t have to leave the bar because he has waitresses on the floor, but he does anyway.

It is important to get to know everyone in the place. A good manager also means going downstairs and cleaning toilets. It’s great to be able to be better than your best cocktail bartender at making cocktails and being able to hold more plates than your best waitress but you have to be good with people too!

Tom: First and foremost, being nice and friendly with the customers is the most important thing for me. If you can get to know the people that come in everyday, then they will come back as they feel comfortable here.

What would you say to someone who is pursuing a job as a bar manager?

Tom Kerrigan has been a bar manager for over 40 years // Ian Curran

Ross: Well, you are everything from a guidance counsellor, to a bar back, and a maintenance guy! You have to be someone who can do a bit of everything. Also, you need to be very good at Microsoft Excel! You need to show your staff that you can and will do everything that you ask of them, because if you fail to do that, then it becomes difficult for you to tell them to do what you want.

Tom: I wouldn’t suggest it! I don’t believe people want to pay the money anymore. I think bar managers will continue to get younger and younger as time goes on. I would tell them you have to like the hospitality trade, and if you’re good with people then it may be the job for you.

Personally, I think it’s the small things like giving certain people drinks after hours that are the biggest parts of the job, keeping the customers, and regulars in particular, happy.


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