Promote Your Bar & Restaurant via Facebook

Facebook For Restaurants.  Are you doing it wrong?813b24e0-f0d5-4924-b726-2743321fd33f

Leap year has given us an extra Monday morning in February! I strongly urge you to use this extra day to learn more about Facebook for Restaurants. Fantastic mustaches recommended but not mandatory. PS Even though this class is directed toward restaurants & bars, any business owner can benefit. Click below to RSVP.

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Learning Opportunity in Palm Coast: Facebook For Restaurants

Flagler County Area restaurant, cafe, bar owners or managers who want to move the needle in 2016 with their social media communities should attend this workshop.

In this one-hour workshop, you will learn:

  • Practical ways to keep your content fresh
  • Concepts and tools for problem solving low-traffic nights
  • A 2-minute thing you can do for your facebook page that’ll set your business apart
  • Making your specials seen outside of your network
  • Amplifying post and page-reach using your inner circle
  • Measurement (Metrics/Analytics unpacked) so you can track
  • Email addresses collected on facebook with a purpose
  • Making sure page info is correct including your operating hours
  • Picture-taking that elevates your brand and your team

When: Monday, February 8th, 2016
Time: 3:00PM-4:15PM
Location: 20 Airport Rd, Suite B
Price: $79.00*


Your instructors, Mark Woods & Ky Ekinci,  have combined 40 years experience in restaurants & hospitality.  


Click for more information and to reserve your seat.   

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Training Spotlight: Verifying Identification By Asking Questions

As part of the TIPS program, I teach my students to FEAR fake IDs.

  • Feel the ID for cracks, tears, and other damage.
  • Examine the ID.  Check the birth date and expiration dates.   Compare the photo to the person presenting the ID.
  • Ask questions to verify that the ID belongs to the guest.
  • Return the ID to the guest.

This simple memory tool can help prevent underage drinking (and more important, keep YOU out of trouble).

Since I am a certified TIPS trainer it is only natural that the employees of my cigar bar are trained as responsible vendors.   On Saturday night, the training proved its worth.

A guest entered the lounge and picked out a cigar and approached the register to pay.  The employee on duty asked for ID.   The guest handed her an ID stating a 1991 birth date.   Because the guest had a different hairstyle than the ID photo she asked him what his birthday was.   He gave the month and day, but when asked for the year he replied “1992.”  She then said “Are you sure?  Because the ID says something different.”   She handed him back his ID and he tried a different ID that had a 1994 birthday.    She obviously didn’t make the sale and he skulked out of the shop.   She then called the two other bars nearby and warned them about a guy with bogus IDs.

Maybe the guest was 18.  Maybe he wasn’t.  As a responsible vendor, we owe it to the community to do everything we can to prevent underage consumption of tobacco and alcohol.   The important lesson is that the employee asked questions to verify the ID belonged to the person presenting it.   Kudos!

When In Doubt, Don’t Serve!

What would your employees do?   When you hire someone to serve alcohol (or in this case tobacco) at your establishment, you effectively give them your checkbook and the keys to the building.   If you do not have a responsible vendor training program in place, please contact  me so we can work together to limit your liability, provide better customer service, and increase your bottom line.

TIPS® (Training for Intervention ProcedureS) is a dynamic, skills-based training program designed to prevent intoxication, drunk driving and underage drinking by enhancing the fundamental “people skills” of servers, sellers and consumers of alcohol. TIPS gives individuals the knowledge and confidence they need to recognize potential alcohol-related problems and intervene to prevent alcohol-related tragedies.

Mark Woods aka TikiTender spent 9 years anchoring the bar staff at The Golden Lion in Flagler Beach, FLA.    He is currently managing partner of Flagler Cigar Company (featuring fine wines, craft beers, and premium cigars at The Humidor Cigar Bar & Lounge) and owner of Fun Coast Bartending (providing training & event based bartending services).  Visit to find out more about him.  

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An Open Letter To Hungry Howie’s In Palm Coast

I have sat on this for a few days, but the time has come to share this experience.   For the record, I have been providing customer service in Flagler County for nearly 20 years now.    At the old Harborside Inn in Palm Coast (1996 – 2001) I worked as a bellman, front desk clerk, and night auditor before becoming Front Office Manager for the last two years I was there.  I then spent a year working as Operations Manager at Sheraton World Golf Village before coming back to Flagler County where I worked for Tee Times USA (2002-2004) as a golf vacation specialist.   In 2004 I went back to my roots at the Harborside Inn and started my first ever bartending job.  This is also where I received my nickname TikiTender.   The hotel closed in 2005 and I began a 9 year run (2005 – 2014) at the Golden Lion in Flagler Beach.  During my time there I was a bartender and front of house manager.   In 2012 I launched my event bartending company, Fun Coast Bartending.   In summer of 2013, I became managing partner for Flagler Cigar Company, running The Humidor Cigar Lounge in European Village.  Along the way, when I needed some extra cash (especially in the late 90s and early 2Ks) I worked, ironically, as a pizza delivery driver and shift manager at Pizza Hut.   This intro is just my way of saying I have some experience interacting with customers.   

So, to the incident on August 2nd.  I was out running errands and called my significant other to discuss lunch.  She suggested Hungry Howie’s Sticky Fingers pizza, which I was very excited about.   I asked her if she could make the order, since I was driving around.    She placed the carryout order using your online ordering system at 1:12 pm with a 20 minute estimated pick-up time.   According to the the ticket on the box I later received, the order printed in your store at 1:13 pm.   I arrived at your store and checked in on Foursquare at 1:29 pm.  Not really expecting the order to be ready at this point I dilly dallied about the store, let a couple other customers go to the counter, went to the bathroom, etc.   

When I approached the counter a few minutes later, the girl working the counter was confused by the order.  She didn’t see it in the system, etc.  I was a little rankled but figured these things happen. I called my other half to ask if she had a confirmation email from the order.  She forwarded it to me 1:36 pm (23 minutes after the order was received in your store).   Your employee finally located the order and found the ticket hanging.  She said “Here it is!  It is in the oven. Should be out in 2 or 3 minutes”.  She was very pleasant and at this point all was well.  I know sometimes orders take a little longer.   I worked at a different pizza chain for many years.  

So I sat down.  I scrolled through facebook.  Posted a photo of one of the store signs to Instagram at 1:40 and watched as others came and went.  After what was more than 2 or 3 minutes, I stood up and approached the counter again.   I politely asked “What’s happening with that pizza?”  The employee appeared surprised that I was still there and took several laps around the kitchen, looking around.  Meanwhile I could an order ready to pick up (boxes with a ticket attached) on top of the pizza oven.  I assumed it was mine.   She finally saw the same box and handed it to me. 

I’m a polite guy and fully understand the ebbs and flows of customer service, but I had to make a statement about this wait time.   I said (in admittedly exasperated tone) “Come on guys, I’ve been standing here for 25 minutes and my oven was on the oven the whole time.”  This was your chance to win me back.  Instead, I got a sassy “No, you really haven’t [been waiting that long]” from the employee as I turned to leave.  “Yes I really have”, I said as I pushed the door open to leave for what will probably be the last time.  “Congratulations…” I heard as the door closed.  I can’t say what she said, but can speculate it was something like “Congratulations for being a jerk”.     It was 1:52 (39 minutes after the order was placed and 16 minutes after I was told my order was “in the oven”).  It wasn’t the time the order took.  It was the “It’s in the oven and should be ready in two or three minutes” statement. 

I was ready to be wooed.   I sat there patiently.   I could see the general manager / owner in the kitchen.   The opportunity was so close. The chance to shine was right there in front of you.   Right there in front of you was the opportunity to say a simple phrase.  “Sorry about the wait.”    I’m no expert on delivering an outstanding customer service experience.   Actually, scratch that, I AM an expert on delivering an outstanding customer experience.   I know customers aren’t always right.  I know they can be pains in the ass.  I know they can be egocentric.   I also know they like to feel important.  They want to be recognized.  They don’t want to be ignored and made to feel as if they are being done a favor by receiving something they have paid for.  By the way, your employee was right about one thing.  I hadn’t been waiting 25 minutes as I stated.  I was only there for 23 minutes. 

It was right there.   Your chance to go from passive to proactive.  Your chance to say “Sorry about that.  Hope to see you again and we will do a better job.”  But instead, a smartass comment from your employee ruined it and chased away what was, up to that point, a frequent customer who is also a chronic oversharer whose check-ins, instagrams, and status updates are seen by thousands of potential customers in the area.   

In customer service 101, it is taught that you should ask customers about their experience and correct it on the spot.  Why?  Because not only do dissatisfied customers sometimes not come back, they also tell all their friends about their bad experience.  I’m mad at you, Hungry Howie’s.  Mad and disappointed.   I will miss the Sticky Fingers pizza.   

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Bartending Service Steps

Not too long ago, I was asked to help write an employee handbook for a local restaurant. Here’s the portion for service behind the bar.  How does this translate to your job?

Steps of Service Behind The Bar

A bar can go from a sleepy slow to a bustling, jam-packed, out-of-control place in only the blink of an eye. One way of reducing this potentially frustrating situation is to have a set of service steps you follow with each customer.


  1. Greet your guest(s)
  2. Offer service
  3. Prepare order(s)
  4. Complete transaction
  5. Check back on guest(s)
  6. Say goodbye to guest(s).


Following these steps while behind the bar can make your workload becomes more manageable, and your work shifts can be a much more productive time.  I.E. You will be able to handle more guests which, in most cases, translates to more money in your pocket.

Greet Your Guests and Make Them Feel At Home.
Make your guests feel welcome in the same way you would make an old friend feel welcome at home. Smile when they arrive and make sure they know you have recognized their presence.  If you aren’t able to offer service immediately, let them know you will be with them as soon as possible.

Offer Service.
Once the guest is obviously ready to order (and you are prepared to offer service), smile and ask what he, she, or the group, would like to drink.  Be prepared to make suggestions. If anyone in the party appears to be under 30 years of age, politely ask for identification before preparing the order.  Place coasters or beverage napkins in front of guests before you prepare their order.  Besides keeping your bar surface cleaner, this also acts as an indicator to your co-workers that the guests have placed an order.

Prepare Order(s).
All beverages should be prepared as quickly as possible while focusing on cleanliness, precision, and presentation. If the customer is unhappy with the result, the bartender should smilingly offer to remake the cocktail to the patron’s specifications free of charge, given the ingredients are not exceptional in cost or rarity.  When presenting the drink be sure to “pose for the camera”.  Pause for a moment and smile at the customer as if they are taking your photograph.

Complete Transaction.
To ensure all drinks are accounted for, it is best to immediately tally them using the point of sale system.  Take payment for the drinks or start the guest a tab by holding a credit card.

Check Back On Guest(s)
Checking on the customer is a key of service success. Ask these questions:  “Are the drinks satisfactory?”  “Is there anything else I can get for you?” “Do you care for another round?”  Smile and let them know you are there to serve them.

Say Goodbye To Guests(s)

The farewell is one of the most important tools of bartending. Just as every patron should be acknowledged on arrival, they should be acknowledged upon departure. Last impressions last.  Give your guests a sincere “thank you” and make them feel welcome to come back again.  




Mark Woods aka TikiTender spent 9 years anchoring the bar staff at The Golden Lion in Flagler Beach, FLA.    He is currently managing partner of Flagler Cigar Company (featuring fine wines, craft beers, and premium cigars at The Humidor Cigar Bar & Lounge) and owner of Fun Coast Bartending (providing training & event based bartending services).  Visit to find out more about him.  

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The most important bar tool? The bartender…

Came across this article, “Use The Force”, over at and felt like it needed to be shared.  ShakeStir’s mission is to provide bartenders worldwide with an interactive online and offline platform to market their professional achievements, exchange ideas, and raise awareness about the cocktail industry both among bartenders and also the customers they interact with on a daily basis. ShakeStir is built exclusively for bartenders with the purpose of showcasing trends and techniques as they sweep through the spirits industry, while revealing the camaraderie among bartenders themselves.

Here’s the article:

“”This [the lightsaber] was the formal weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster. More skill than simple sight was required for its use. An elegant weapon. It was a symbol as well. Anyone can use a blaster or a fusioncutter—but to use a lightsaber well, was a mark of someone a cut above the ordinary.” – Obi-Wan KenobiRecently we were asked to do a staff training only covering bar tools and their uses.  Exciting, but a bit nerve wracking to speak for four hours to a staff that is mildly to heavily hung over on their Saturday morning about only tools – we were sure they would rather have been eating spicy, greasy plates of eggs and swilling over roasted coffee with their sunglasses on.  But there we were.  No booze talk, just mechanics: why we stir, the many uses of a muddler, how to open a beer bottle with your tin, how the julep strainer is the perfect ice scoop in a catering situation when your icebox is a swamp, etc.  We step behind the bar, open our mouths, and then BAM!  The intro and first subject of the days training comes into focus.  The most important tool in the bartender’s toolbox is….The BARTENDER.
From there, the training fell like rain.  We are our most important tools behind the bar – yes we are aware we just called all bartenders tools – on with the show.  Your appearance, attitude, physical and mental well-being, presence, and confidence of space are all invaluable to making a night kick a*s.  Most bartenders have the luxury of not having to wake up at 8 am on a regular basis.  So, if you are coming to work exhausted, let’s hope it’s because you woke up early to a) hit the books and study up on your spirit knowledge, b) take care of / hang out with your kid – that says it all, or c) you have found a yoga class that somehow hits all the spots bartenders need to hit… and worked a double.  The obvious alternatives of why you are tired mean that you have no excuse.  When you walk through the door, you can shake it off and do what needs to get done.
We are not innocent to the overindulgence; late nights and lack of sleep are sometimes commonplace in a bartender’s world.  We just realize that it doesn’t serve that moment when your bar is three deep and you need to keep your chin up and smile. 
We know speaking to a group that prides itself on the individuality of one’s dress and appearance is a dangerous plank to walk down.  We’ll play this safe and say be clean, have clean clothes, clean breath and fingernails, and don’t stink.  Dress as you are able given the place you work, and express yourself in whatever way makes you feel the most comfortable taking the stage behind the bar.  The stage…  We feel you have to accept it.  The bar is a stage wherein everyone watches you, whether you want them to or not, so posture matters.  Chin up, chest facing forward, eyes bright and active, smile easily.  We often find we are our nicest, most natural and personable selves when we are behind the bar.  Sometimes after a few busy nights, all we want is six hours of catch up on cable TV shows, some take out and very little conversation, if any.  But, when you are working, you gotta give it.  It’s like an actor hitting the stage on a bad night. People paid for their tickets and want to see the show.  They could give a sh!t if the actor isn’t “feeling it.” 
Presence is a powerful thing.  It’s innate in some people, but in others, it’s something that is learned, nurtured and practiced.  It gets easier to “fake” when you’re feeling really beat up, and becomes more natural over time as the emotional epicenter of your bartender state.  With a strong presence, an unruly mob of people clamoring for a drink becomes something that can be controlled and guided into the night with the bartender at the reins.
Eyes, ears, nose, mouth.  For example, while we stir, we treat this as a time to take visual inventory of what needs doing once this delicate little all spirit bastard is done.  We make eye contact with guests.  We smile and nod with the universal, be there in a sec, face.  We catch the barbacks gaze and speak with our eyes.  We take a second to survey the general crowd and check in with the room.  Ears pick up where your eyes leave off.  Bartender ears are thieves.  They are fine tuned filters that can sort through the conversations of the room, take cues from the conversations of their guests, hear what is happening in the station down the bar, and what is happening behind them.  By acquiring this data, you can find your way out of any maze.  Now that you are seeing and hearing, smelling your way through the night keeps you on your game.  Are your tins clean?  Smell them.  If that glass is too clean (meaning the sanitizer is alive and well), the nose knows.  Has the cream turned, is that drink balanced, corked wine, skunked beer?  Of all things, your nose will be a last line of defense against preventing something bad from landing in front of a guest and soiling their experience.  Finally, the mouth.  Help us out.  Is this drink on or off?  On or off, balanced or imbalanced, too much bass or treble, you get the point.  Always trust your gut.  Your instincts will save you in all walks of life, and definitely will save you behind to bar.
Bartending is beautiful.  Or at least it can be.  It can also be clunky, sloppy and uncoordinated.  Move behind your bar as if you were born to.  Own the space. If temporarily blinded by lemon juice shot from a squeezer, know you can find your way out without looking like a blinded Frankenstein.  Move with purpose.  If you can do it in one move, do so.  We all know our local maestros of bar movement –  we love to see them in action and study the efficiency of their game.  They are captivating to watch. Whatever your style is, decide, and be that style.  A machine, a dancer, flair, a comic, whatever, just carve out your style.  Own your space!

With all these things considered, practiced, and then properly utilized, then reach into your briefcase full of vintage pre-Prohibition silver that we all love, and kick a*s with it. 
“Lightsaber skills, important they are. How to use as well as how not to use. When to move as well as when not to move.”- Master Yoda”

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Training Minute: One ID, One Drink

It doesn’t happen often at my bar, but it happened Monday night. A relatively slow bar night, but the upper deck was jamming. A young guy approached me and asked for a double Jim Beam® and Coke®. “No problem”, I said. “May I see ID?” He pulled out his ID, no problem. As I was pouring I heard him saying “Let’s see, what else do I want?” I asked him who the other drink was for. He answered “Oh it’s for my friend upstairs.” When I asked for a second ID he said “Oh she’s already drinking.” I stood my ground and said “Sorry, I need to see her ID too.” He said “I will just order upstairs” and paid for his drink.

I can’t say for certain, but what probably happened is the girl tried to order from the server. The server probably asked to see ID and refused service. So the crafty young gentleman tried to get a drink from me. SHUT DOWN! DENIED!

Technically speaking, if I did sell him a drink and he in turn handed it over to a minor, HE would be in violation of the law. But, squeaking by on a technicality does not make it RESPONSIBLE of me as a vendor. It also wouldn’t protect me or my restaurant from being found negligent.


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TikiTender to Become a TIPS Trainer

Next week I will be Orlando to participate in a training conference. After the conference, I will be certified by HCI and the State of Florida as a Responsible Vendor trainer. What does this mean to the TikiTender world?

  • a) I will be in Orlando overnight on the 20th, so look me up!
  • b) After training, I will be able to give classes to bartenders and servers.
  • c) This will expand my little empire and provide supplemental income, bringing Fun Coast Bartending, Inc one step closer to reality.

This is an exciting adventure for me, with the potential for some great experience AND sustainable income.

TIPS (Training for Intervention ProcedureS) is the global leader in education and training for the responsible service, sale, and consumption of alcohol. TIPS is a skills-based training program that is designed to prevent intoxication, underage drinking, and drunk driving.

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