After dipping out on the “Bunny dip,” Scores Bar Manager Lisa Hinds has enjoyed a long and successful career managing bars for some of the most well-known clubs in the country. Here, Hinds graciously offers her tips for hiring and managing bar managers and bartenders.

(NOTE: This story appears in the March 2024 issue of ED Magazine.)


isa Hinds started in 1994 as a server for Dana Montana at the Sugar Shack outside of Chicago. In the context of the length of her career, her days as a server were short-lived — “mostly because I was horrible at walking and carrying a tray simultaneously,” she quips. Montana is a former Playboy Bunny server, so, according to Hinds, she insisted that all drinks be served with the perfect ‘Bunny dip’!

Hinds ditched the tray and the ‘dip’ to get behind the bar where she was comfortable for several years. She then had the opportunity to train and work with Thee Dollhouse Group in 1997 when the club took on that name. In 1999, Thee Dollhouse offered her a managing position she couldn’t refuse. She admits, initially, she took the job reluctantly.

“It’s not that I didn’t want to do it, it was just that I made a great living as a bartender at the time, so I really wasn’t interested in making that change,” she says.

However, Hinds has found that she thrives managing front of house especially. Now, more than 20 years later, Lisa Hinds oversees all club operations for Scores Chicago O’Hare, the same club she has been at since the ‘90s, only with a new name and in partnership with Dennis DeGori since 2003. Needless to say, Scores is lucky to have someone with three decades of loyalty, experience and expertise.

Lisa Hinds

ED: In your experience, what are the main reasons why clubs don’t make more money at their bars? Is it poor management, poor bartending, understaffing or something else?

HINDS: Any of these reasons could explain why a club would make less money, but the root of the problem will always be poor management. Creating a strong team that believes in the same culture is the responsibility of management. Having a clear and efficient system in place is key for everyone to be on the same page and for the operation to run optimally. A team that is trained properly and has the knowledge and tools that they need will not underperform. It is when they are left unsupervised and without direction that you will see your bottom line decrease.

“A team that is trained properly and has the knowledge and tools that they need will not underperform. It is when they are left unsupervised and without direction that you will see your bottom line decrease.”


– Lisa Hinds, Bar Manager of Scores

ED: What are the qualities of a good bar manager? If you are interviewing prospective bar managers, what type of questions do you find most valuable?

HINDS: There are multiple qualities that a good bar manager must possess, such as: a calm demeanor; leadership ability; reliability; mixology and product knowledge; skills in organizing, multitasking, problem-solving and customer service; and so many more! The bar manager is the person that sets the standard for everything that goes over the bar, making sure that the bars are set up efficiently and that there is a system in place for orders to get out quickly. Their job is a major part of the operation.

When interviewing a bar manager, a few of the questions I like to ask them are:

• What qualities do you have that make you feel you are a good candidate for this position? 

• How would you handle a team member not pulling their weight? 

• Tell me about a time that you were able to improve a process that was already in place. 

• What experience have you had in which you have supervised staff?  

• What methods in your opinion made you successful? 

• How would you handle a guest complaint?

ED: Let’s apply the same questions to bartenders: What are the qualities of a good bartender? If you’re hiring a bartender, what type of questions do you find most valuable?

HINDS: Bartenders also have a long list of qualities that they need for the position, such as cleanliness; communication; adaptability; efficiency; mixology and product knowledge; and skills in multitasking and customer service.

Bar staff work in an environment where they are on display at all times. They should love engaging with the guests in a friendly and accommodating manner. While making sure that all of the guests have a smile on their faces, it is also necessary for them to keep all areas clean and service the waitstaff and guests by keeping their drinks full. It is a big job! They are also responsible for the financial transactions with the guests, so they need to be organized with cash and credit card transactions.

Some questions that I ask when interviewing for a bartending position are: 

• What do you feel are your strengths as a bartender? 

• How would you handle a guest complaint if they did not like a drink that you had made them? How do you turn things around with a guest having a negative experience? 

• What is your approach to upselling?

• How do you encourage guests to come back to see you?

ED: Do you find that having a cocktail menu is beneficial for adult nightclubs? Why or why not? 

HINDS: I do believe that having a cocktail menu is beneficial for any venue. From the guest’s perspective, it gives them visual options if they don’t have a “go to” drink. It also gives the venue a chance to highlight any drink specials and offer them in front of the guest to be clearly seen. Twenty years ago, bartending and drinks in general were simple. You had drinks like a Jack and Coke or a Vodka and Soda. Today is completely different and there are so many options. Different venues offer a variety of cocktails, so having that menu will let your guests know what specialty drinks you have without taking the server or bartender’s time.

ED: What are the keys to having a bar staff (bartender, waitresses, bar back) that work well together? 

HINDS: The answer to this question is not magic. It is consistency. All staff has to be properly trained and educated on all products and equipment that they are working with. The staff then has to be equipped with the tools that they need. This is not where it ends though! There has to be continuous engagement with meetings and education so that the staff is up to date on any changes in operations or menu items. Managers need to be present and available to the staff for any needs that they have throughout their shift and have an open line of communication. The staff needs to know who to go to when they are in need of anything.

Lisa Hinds oversees club operations for the front and the back of the house of Scores Chicago O’Hare, an adult nightclub co-owned by Dana Montana and Dennis DeGori since 2003. After decades in the bar and nightlife hospitality industry, she calls front of the house her biggest passion. Hinds joined the ACE National board in 2021, but has been active with local events for COAST and ACE throughout the years. 

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