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Job Description:

Barback - Merchant - Madison, WI

Merchant, located at 121 S. Pinckney St. in Madison, WI, is seeking an elite crew of bartender supports, or Barbacks, to join our team.

Rule No. One Hospitality Group opened Merchant in late 2010 as a café, a shop, and a late night craft cocktail bar specializing in no-nonsense, modestly priced, seasonal fare that reflects the ingredients and burgeoning culture of Madison, Wisconsin.  Here we celebrate our neighborhood, the First Settlement District, steeped in history, quality, authenticity, style, and entertainment.  The idea has flourished as Merchant has become a Madison institution and a stage for showcasing some of the best bartending and culinary talent in the city with a distinctive menu steeped in the classic American repertoire.  Now, in 2022, we are rebuilding and reimagining Merchant for the new decade with a state-of-the-art renovation featuring aviation-style windows, new finishes and wraparound seating. This will be an opportunity to rebuild not only with new decor and menu, but a culture that celebrates our hospitality group's mission to create spaces for treating each other and ourselves well.  You will be working with a chef team led by some of Madison's top talent, including Chef Matt Schieble who has spent time in multiple Michelin-starred kitchens and General Manager Maggie Roovers, a 2019 James Beard Award semi-finalist.

The Barback position is the engine behind the scenes in the restaurant providing critical operational support for the bartending team, with an orientation to the guest and our mission.  Responsibilities include:


Bar Operations, Pre-Service

  • Ensure bar is setup with simple/egg whites/mint/pineapple juice backups, fresh fruit.  Restock beer and wine as needed for service.

  • Prepare mats for service


Bar Operations, During Service

  • Support the bartender during service typically on the fly: replacements for empty bottles, heat tempered glasses for hot cocktails, glass break cleanup, an immediate cleanup of some mess, a quick refill

  • Refil spirits, syrups, juices, keg changes, etc.

  • Keep the bartop clean and dry. Clear dishes, unwanted glasses, grab signed checks, tips. Keep it dry so tips and checks don't get ruined.

  • Stock wells as needed: Ice, Juices, Egg whites, Fruit cuts, Fruit for peels, Cans of pineapple/cran/ginger beer.

  • Clean dirty tins and dirty jiggers.  Clean dishes as needed.


Bar Operations, End of Service

  • Clean the wells, sinks, and rails by removing all the bottles, wipe down rails thoroughly

  • Wash tins, stirrers, muddlers, strainers, jiggers, black plastic juice holders in the dish area to wash later.

  • Wipe down bitters, syrups, surfaces of the well, Clean wine cooler and drawers.  Wipe down the bartop and backbar.

  • Wash mats in back.

  • Save and secure product: Put away juice bottles and cuts. Combine them into quarts and label. Stash good looking garnishes and herbs in lesser used drawer to potentially save prep person some effort.  Take ice cart, bitters, syrups, your container of peeled fruit downstairs.

  • Sweep and Mop. 

  • Drain the dishwasher, leave it open with the rack hanging out. 

  • Put up fans. 

  • Dispose of garbage.  Bar area should be totally clear.


The role will report directly to the Bartenders, Bar Leads, Assistant General Manager and General Manager of Merchant.


  • Competitive wages

  • A flexible and predictable schedule that is posted two weeks in advance

  • 50% dining discount for you and your friends and family

  • A free and healthy GF Vegetarian or Regular staff meal

  • 50% off all food and beverage, 15% off retail items

  • Access to Merchant's online classroom with training materials, recipes, and checklists.  After full orientation, we offer weekly paid training opportunities to taste wine, spirits and food with industry experts

  • Our mission is centered around treating each other and ourselves well through our love of food, drink, and community.

  • Sustainability must be possible and attainable in our industry!

  • All employees are offered health, dental and vision insurance

  • Paid time off

  • 401k contribution coming soon

  • The chance to work in a brand new clean facility with state of the art new equipment

  • The chance to contribute to one of the most dynamic restaurant groups in the region


Our ideal Barback has the following attributes:

  • Restaurant experience is a plus

  • Must enjoy an active, athletic role.

  • Passion for learning our bar.  Barbacks are future bartenders!

  • The ideal Barback has good personal qualities, is polite, confident, a great sense of humor and above all, enjoys dealing with people.

  • Able to thrive in a team environment as a reliable and trustworthy player on the floor.

  • The barback, along with all staff members, is expected to be clean, neat and tidy in their personal appearance and also in their working habits; they shall also maintain the highest standards of hygiene in their workplace.

  • Always be observing to meet the harsh demands of the bartenders and our guests.  Try to always be  looking up and down the length of the bartop and see what the bartenders are doing to try and anticipate their needs.

  • Balance customer and bartender demands.  It's good to meet people and get to know the patrons and servers, but don't get distracted by chatting. Balance talking with making sure the bartender has everything they need.

  • Hustle. Moving faster on your feet makes everything get done quicker. If everything gets done quicker than you are ahead and can have more fun.

  • Learn. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Barbacks are future bartenders.  Bartenders will work and teach you about cocktails, spirits, and beer if make time to learn.

Our Values:

  • Inclusivity.  We will establish a culturally diverse and  inclusive environment, one that specifically supports minorities, all genders, and those historically underrepresented in our industry.

  • Humility. We are modest about capabilities, admit mistakes, and create the space for others to contribute.

  • Effective Collaboration. We are a team centered around positivity, that stands for one message which involves empowering others, empathizing with each other, and uplifting others as a collective.

  • Respect and Justice / Health and Well-Being. All team members need to be treated respectfully and fairly.  This pertains to equity in pay, and specific attention to physical/mental health, well-being and safety.

  • Positivity and Love of Food and Community. Cooking and serving others is a powerful act of caring and love for one another.  Let us work together to bring our community together through the power of food and drink

Pay Rate: $17-21/hr, inclusive of tip-out

Merchant is an equal opportunity employer, with a mission to support women, Black, LGBTQ+ applicants.  As an organization, we support a minimum wage of $16/hour.

RNO is a mission-driven lifestyle company dedicated to creating spaces for celebrating and treating each other and ourselves well.  We seek to provide warm, fun and an endlessly interesting mix of inspired programming that challenges, invigorates and delights our guests by celebrating our craft, who we are, what we do and what we believe. As a community-driven hospitality management organization, we are active in social causes supporting women, Black, LGBTQ+, and Indigenous communities everywhere. Cook It Forward is a non-profit advocacy arm of Rule No One Hospitality, Inc. with a mission to address ongoing inequities in our food systems. We are all working collectively on social entrepreneurship, social equity, and social justice-- one meal at a time.

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Application For:

Barback - Merchant - Madison, WI

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