Of Bars, Booze, and Bartending - Proving "Coughlin's Law" Invalid Since Feb '05

Thursday, March 31, 2005

April, Come She Will

What a beautiful day. It's worth repeating, it was so beautiful. What a beautiful day!

Today was my dreaded weekly double-shift, easy as pie. No money in it, due to lack of business, but easy as pie! The perfect weather likely kept them away. Perfect day to picnic. Simply lovely. Can't blame the customers for staying outside on the first decent day of spring.

Great night at the bar, however. Many single businessmen eating and drinking. My favorite kind of evening; goes by quickly and the customers are pleasant, interesting to talk with, and to-the-point. A nice thing about this kind of work is that every single day is different than the one before.

It's April. Almost. Who can resist the first signs of spring?

Sunday, March 27, 2005

You can't keep a good basketball fan down.

Keeping the average southwestern Ohio man away from The NCAA Elite 8 (or whatever in the fuck stupid name they've given it) is like hiding the cocaine from Anna Nicole Smith. They'll find what they're looking for.

There were two different, large walk-in parties at The Taverna this evening, each with their own portable television (our restaurant is senza video, naturalmente) , and each party reveled in keeping the remaining diners in the loop as far as scores and what-not. You can't help but admire the kind of fellas who, knowing our restaurant doesn't provide television, bring their own and enjoy a delicious dinner because they love the restaurant so much. Their scorekeeping made for great icebreakers, and the mood was upbeat and fun all evening. The servers and bartenders enjoyed the updates, as we're senza video as well.

Honestly, there weren't many diners at all. Easter weekend + NCAA Tournament = Slooooow night. A developing theme.

I had much more affection for March Madness back in my sports-bartending days.
We had a large party in the banquet room tonight; a woman celebrating her 90th birthday! The party was lovely, dressed to the nines, and drinking heavily. It was a well-organized affair and moved smoothly. Exactly the type of party you would like to be invited to. It turns out that the birthday girl was a Holocaust survivor, and there was a touching testament to that effect during the speeches. The entire staff felt blessed to be in the presence of her, and her beautiful family and friends.

To Life.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Scream without raising your voice

It's been a rough week so far. Maybe it's the sleeting, bone-chilling Ohio cold. Or maybe, it's them. Everyone is just so damned cranky. It's too late in the winter to suffer this weather. I can hardly blame my soaked customers when they zip into the tavern, battered, wet, thirsty, pissed off and ready for spring. Sometimes I want to ignore them; other times I just want to offer them a piping bowl of homemade soup. We're all in this together, aren't we?

Step on a steam train, step out of the driving rain, maybe...

I would like to thank U2 for raising my mood throughout the week (the VH1/Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Special helped). 25 years of mood-raising. I feel positively blessed to have grown up with them.

I've gotta do something, about where we're going...

Whatever it takes to keep one's sanity. If only our customers knew the songs playing through our heads while we work. I imagine that we all do this, no matter what kind of work we do.

Under black belly of cloud in the rain...

We all have different soundtracks. We whistle while we work, and smile to each other, sometimes singing along, when we recognize the tune. Tonight, my soundtrack was U2.

White golden pearls, stolen from the sea, she is raging, she is raging... and a storm blows up in her eyes...

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Joe and Rosemary

And then, there are customers who are amazing, and who make you remember why we remain in this ever-challenging business.

Joe and Rosemary.

We were once neighbors, sort-of. Lived in the same suburb, traded idle gossip about the other suburbians. I never knew them until I started working at the tavern; isn't it a shame that we don't get to know our neighbors better? Came in to eat tonight, and afterward stopped at the bar for brandy-and-chat.

Delightful. It really only takes two people to make your work so pleasant and easy. I only ask that the night fly by, and Joe and Rosemary, and so many other colorful customers, make that happen.

Friday, March 18, 2005

March Madness + National Drinking Holiday =

Boredom. For restaurant bartenders stuck without a TV.

St. Patrick's Day doesn't exactly lend itself well to an independent, fine dining Italian restaurant. Combine that with the beginning of the tournament, and you have the Slowest. Night. Ever. I'm sure it's the same for servers and like-employed bartenders everywhere. It's a good night for employee bonding, though, all that standing around. We put green food dye in the Peroni and drank it liberally after closing.

Tavern Wench might have found a new job. Different locale, same tavern wenching job, just more lucrative. Stay tuned...

As an aside... GO OHIO UNIVERSITY BOBCATS!! My beloved alma mater! BEAT FLORIDA!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

C'mon Baby, Leave Some Change Behind

C'mon baby leave some change behind
She was a bitch, but I don't care
She brought our food out on time
Wore a funky barrette in her hair *

Stiffed on a $155 bar tab tonight. Big ---- in the credit card tip line. Japanese customers, 6 businessmen.

My manager added an automatic 18% to their bill out of sympathy tonight.

I'm thankful for the little things.

*"Waitress" Live, Throwing Copper. A song I find rather offensive, and therefore more relevant

Friday, March 11, 2005

Leona... good tipper?

I don't know how to put polling software in this blog yet, but I'd wager that the majority of wait staff out there would take one look at this woman and quickly beg their manager for an early cut.

Leona Helmsely, world-famous for treating her staff horribly, must be the ugliest rich woman ever. Including the current British Royal Family, even.

Leona Helmsely, #97 on the newly-released Forbes 400

Rick Santorum Is A Noxious Weed And Must Be Stopped

I have no intention of turning this into a political blog. I read too many of those sites already, and The Internets don't need another one.

However, The Waiter, of
Waiter Rant, brought the wait staff blogging world up to speed on a new law proposed by Sen. Rick Santorum that would essentially rid the business owners of America from abiding by pesky minimum wage laws. Please read his entry, Social Darwinist Dead Enders, to get the gist of the legislation.

Now, as a bartender, I'm paid $5.50 per hour, since I make less in tips than our servers do, who are paid $2.13 per hour. Ohio is a state which abides by the Federal Minimum Wage for tipped workers, so we don't get any more or any less. But those tiny little checks are honestly keeping us one step away from bankruptcy. My monthly checks are so tiny that they're practically an afterthought, but that's because my hourly wages go straight to pay Mr. Taxman his cut on the tips I made. Call it the Taxman Tipout. He's still going to come nagging me for it, even though I won't have an hourly wage to hand over to him.

This proposed law is so unfair and depressing and needless that I can't imagine it has a chance of passing. I'm certain it would be wildly unpopular once the servers, bartenders and bussers of the world caught wind of it, so let's be sure to spread the word and lead the movement against Rick Santorum's efforts to rob us of our pay. This is the kind of thing left- and right-leaning bloggers should unite on;
Instapundit is attempting to form a "cross-blogosphere coalition" in terms of the new bankruptcy law legislation, for example.

We have to lead on this issue; if we follow we'll all be jobless, and there will be no more restaurants, only buffets! Once our customers realize they have to get their food and drink their damned selves, they'll be the first to back us up. Spread the word.

Thanks to The Waiter for leading the call.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

New Kid

Let's just get to the point... New Kid isn't going to last.

The thing about bartending, much like serving, is that you either got it or you don't. New kid don't. It's clear, simple and clean. He just has no sense of urgency; he's the kind of bartender perfectly content with shining glassware while thirsty customers pound the wood.

Saturday night, three deep at the bar, the service bar printer singin' in the rain. Complete chaos. Bar crammed with hipster martini drinkers. "May we see your martini menu?" they inquired. We don't have one, of course, but the bartenders are happy to suggest some "fun" martinis for the gals. They always settle on Cosmos or Appletinis... this is known by the bartender in advance. Makes it all the more annoying to run through your repertoire of "fun" martinis when you know exactly what they're going to order.

New Kid just never got that far. Immediately frustrated with the pack of women, he disappeared on a glassware quest and wasn't seen again for nigh on 15 minutes. Can't handle "the weeds." I don't see a future in him for busybusy bartending. I personally don't enjoy sharing my tips while doing 80% of the work, but that's another vent.

Nice cat, New Kid, though. Loves dogs, cute Boston accent, years and years of experience. I could learn from him, but this gig is not his thing. I can feel it, the servers can feel it, and I wonder if he'll even show up for his next shift.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Tonight I fantasized about dancing with a broom

Pretty slow for a Friday night. There was a moment where I was so bored, I pictured myself in a non-existent Dave Matthews video, dancing with a broom. I owned it and was fierce, of course. It picked up late, and by then it was only annoying. Ideally, servers and bartenders want the evening to get busy starting around 7 pm, working up to a frenzy by 9, and pretty much over by 11. That's the ideal. Of course, by definition, it never happens. More often, the customers come in spurts, leaving you bored-really bored-suddenly slammed - triple-sat - losing my shit - bored - I'm closing and I need a cocktail. In a nutshell.

The usual cheese-sters showed up around 10. I was training a new bartender, so by "Cheesy 10" I had grown quite tired of describing glassware and appetizers and touchscreen computer systems to "New Kid". I checked out, and hammered out an agreement with my manager that I could clock out and drink gin-n-tonnies on the house, if I stuck around and supervised New Kid through closing. I work pretty cheap, so long as I don't have any plans for the evening. Sitting at the end of the bar in your uniform is uncomfortable. It was only a matter of time before "the regulars" sat beside me, only making the night longer and more miserable. Yes, of course I'll meet you guys later at :: Insert Local Silver Beaver Club Here:: Yes, you guys are really fun and I can't wait until I get off so I can go meet you at that lame club!

By 10, any regular still left in our tavern is fat, happy and ready to move on to some serious drinking. It's truly the last thing they should be thinking of, drinking more, and the entire time their liquid-courage-infused banter enters my ears, I'm worried about their cab rides home and what-not. In Big City Ohio, you still have to wait a half-hour for a cab to drive your drunk ass home. It's pathetic. I fantasize briefly about a late-night drunk-ass cab service start-up, excuse myself, walk New Kid through a quick, tired demonstration of check-out, and go home.

Saturday night, it'll be me and New Kid. It's tough to get used to a new partner.

Did I mention that he's well over 55? I know I can appreciate old-school, and I hope to learn much from him, but it's different for me...

Thursday, March 03, 2005


It was, as they say in the restaurant business, a long story tonight. Weather miserable, cold, sleeting. Lots of standing behind the bar, sort of posing, trying to look interested, lots of glass-polishing and weak smiling. No customers except the ones already seated in the dining room. I kept thinking "I'm missing 'America's Next Top Model - Cycle 4' for this." Imagine standing behind a completely empty bar, virtually on-stage, with nothing to do, for two to three hours. It can feel kind of humiliating, but it's not. It is, though, difficult to pull off on these slow winter nights.

By the end of the evening, I'd made $27.00 in tips. $27.00 bitches! Spring can't get here quickly enough.