CANOE Network

The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


The other side of a night at the bar

By Nick Candiotto
Toronto Sun

A friend. A psychiatrist. An advice columnist. All are stereotypical descriptions of a bartender. Now add teacher and entrepreneur to the list. Approaching its 30th anniversary, the Bartending School of Ontario at 744 Broadview Ave. is the brainchild of Victor J. Miller.

"I was the one who always had to train the new person everywhere I worked," recalls the founder and owner, "and while I was training, I had to share my tips, so I wasn't making any money. When I shared my concerns with a few of my customers, they kept telling me to open a bartending school. At first, I just laughed it off. Eventually I gave in."

The Bartending School of Ontario is now a registered and approved job training centre under the Private Career Colleges Act -- the only bartending school in Ontario with such a designation.

"We had to prove we are needed and that our courses met a certain criteria, among other things. We had to be accepted. And we have to be reviewed and accepted again each year," Miller says.

The four-week course teaches more than how to mix drinks, and provides more than just International Bartending Certification. Included in the $200 tax deductible cost are materials, manuals, bartending certificate and free job leads. That is in addition to the knowledge, confidence and ability to work in a number of different positions.

"We don't just teach bartending. We prepare our students for a job and for the job search. We teach them interview skills, how to improve their resumes ... how to sell themselves. We teach rotation of stock, how to up-sell, how to make good quality drinks ... Finishing the course doesn't just qualify you to be a bartender -- graduates have become successful bar managers and bar owners."

The variety of job possibilities mirrors the variety of venue training offered at the school. Students work in the high-volume, sales-oriented setting of a night club, learning the proper layering techniques and knowledge of liqueurs necessary for work in a shooter bar.

In the more personal and relaxed atmosphere of a British pub/sports bar, confidence with customers is emphasized, while training at both the front and service bar is covered.

"We offer training to make sure that everybody makes more money -- the bartender, the manager, the bar owner, the waitress," Miller says.

The school itself is committed to remaining at the front of the ever-changing industry and emphasizes a student-first approach, ensuring they are equipped to handle the many changes -- and to be safe while doing so.

"That's our reputation. It says right on our certificate: implementing safe service. With us, you're a lifetime member because we're not going anywhere."

Part of the lifetime membership is the very extensive job board on campus. With more than 70 job postings on an average week, the board provides a number of viable options after graduation.

"We have cruise lines, resorts, bars and restaurants from all over the world posting on our board. We get job offers from Japan. We're open seven days a week like the industry, so there are jobs going through all year," Miller says.

For more information about the course and the school itself, call 416-466-7847 or visit the Web site at

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