If you don’t get the reference, you’re obviously completely uncultured.
After a second 4-year stint in the same old mismanaged bar, I quit. I’m now officially a one job kind of dude and it many ways, it doesn’t feel very good. Conversely, I’m elated and relieved to be free of The Man’s tyranny in that shithole of what passes for a “bar.” Yeah, I use “The Man” loosely and yeah, I’m bitter – but for good reason. Really, it’s just a very small microcosm – sure. But it was a hell hole none the less from a ownership and management perspective. Completely screwed up place.
Yes, there were a handful of people who truly and genuinely cared about lots of things – one or two folks in management and a couple of F.O.H. staff on the front lines – sure. I’m greatly appreciative of the few worker bees there that always tried to do the right thing for themselves as well as the business (and in turn, customers). I can’t deny that. There are few co-workers who I will miss terribly but most, I won’t.
The overwhelming majority of peeps there were unbelievably “status quo” kind of folks who just followed the S.O.P. like blind sheep. Their top priorities were texting their significant others, working out which club they were going to that night, and if they were going to make enough to get their nose candy that evening. If there was a few minutes left over after that, maybe – just maybe – they might check on their staff or customers. The sheeps’ M.O.s were clearly:
- Don’t Rock the Boat
- STFU and Just Do What I Tell You
- We’ve Been Making Lots-O-Money For Years So We Must Know What We’re Doing
- We’ve Been Making Lots-O-Money For Years So Don’t Try to Change or Suggest Anything
- I Don’t Give a Shit How You’re Affected. I like the Way This Person Looks and You Must Work With Her/Him Even Though They Don’t Know What The Fuck They’re Doing and Ignores Customers
There are many, many establishments that do a booming business and make beaucoup cheddar primarily because of their locations. This place definitely fit that description. There are so many instances over the years of mismanagement, disgruntled employees, and overwhelmingly horrific customer reviews, primarily on Yelp and CitySearch, that the problems cannot be denied or even hidden. Yes, Internet trolls are everywhere and comments/reviews must read with a grain of salt as bashing any restaurant/bar for even isolated incidents is the norm. But when you seen hundreds or even thousands of negative reviews and experiences – the same horror stories over and over – what are you to think? Make up your own mind I guess. Regardless, throngs of neighborhood peeps, bridge-and-tunnel sets, uptown residents and masses of tourists continue to flock to this spot.
It doesn’t matter that I don’t name the place. There are numerous spots like this one. I’m just venting for personal therapy’s sake and to grow my blog.
Anyway, I simply got fed up with with all that after many years and got the fuck out of a personally toxic environment. I stayed because (1) I had the shifts I wanted – ones which fit my other activities (2) I worked regularly with a couple of fellow bartenders that were my friends and who shared my beliefs and abilities (3) we developed a following and (4) as a result of 1, 2 and 3, I made really good money – regularly.
The core problem with this establishment is that the “I don’t give a shit” attitude started at the top with the ownership and filtered down like the plague to each and every employee. The owners are well-to-do successful business people who haven’t spent much, if any, time at all busting their asses in various restaurant/bar positions other than their own. They have such little perspective on what actually goes on in their business on the front lines, it’s a fucking miracle they’re still in business.
As mentioned, the location is so stellar and they’ve been making millions for so many years, that they’ve essentially brainwashed themselves into believing that they know what they’re doing… when that’s not really true. The hiring practices for Front of House staff stand out as Example #1. Essentially, you have to appeal to the person doing the hiring as an eccentric and/or extremely attractive person who is either in the modelling/acting business or desires to be. Your ability to bartend or wait tables DOES NOT MATTER. Shocking, aye? The only reason they get away with it, again, is prime location, casual atmosphere and relative affordability compared to surrounding bars and restaurants.
They don’t care in the slightest that they screw over customers or fellow employees. The sheep customers just keep coming back like cockroaches for more abuse – horrific service and neglect. I’ve always been victim to this practice since originally starting work there. However, in the last couple of months, it go so prevalent and invasive that my income routinely fell 40 – 50%. I’d be working with a complete retard that would be sitting picking her nails, leaning against the back bar, looking down at the ground while 5 customers where hailing her for assistance. I’d be running around like a mad man trying to cover everyone – the whole time, knowing that we’re pooling/sharing tips. She’d disappear every 20 minutes or so for a 15 minute break – all damned night. She had not the slightest clue as to proper drink preparation – zero interest in the craft.
The worst part, was that management was so stupidly blinded and ignorant, that they thought she was a great worker bee due to her sales. Her ring wasn’t in the toilet only because we all had a habit of opening tabs on the register of the corresponding section so that each bartender would attempt to focus on his/her own section in order to make service run smoother and take care of customers more efficiently – ugh. This person was just one such example among dozens.
I consider myself a fantastic bartender. Do I have my faults? Yes. Do I make mistakes? Yes. Do I occasionally misjudge/misread? Yes. We all do; in any profession. However, without tooting my horn (but I will anyway), I make fewer mistakes. I’m far better, faster, knowledgeable, experienced, engaging, tolerant, observant, stronger and (gulp) appealing than most – even in ultra-competitive, beautiful-people-land New York City. I also have a far better repertoire of drinks, obsession with proper drink preparation, and knowledge of spirits, beer varieties and vino than most bartenders I’ve run across. OK, enough of that.
So, after a week or so soaking up the joy of working only 40 hours a week for the first time in 4 years, not to mention dealing with thousands of dollars of lost income, I’m pounding the streets and heeding my own advice, looking for work. It sucks – big time. It’s one of my top 2 least appealing endeavours - second only to looking for a new apartment – which I never have to do again fortunately since I own my own house now-a-days. But, I haven’t forgotten those apartment hunting horror shows – another pastime that’s rife with discrimination; ridiculously skewed in favor of hot SWFs – just like bartending.
Well, the discrimination works both ways. In the majority of hot/trendy bars/clubs, hot girls have a distinct advantage – especially where the person doing the hiring is a straight male (majority). In long-time established pubs and old school eateries, it’s often just the opposite – chicks have little to no chance of ever getting their foot in the door. Those places typically favor older gray-haired career dudes or “lifers.” The point is, the whole hiring process is far from orderly, fair, or easy. Then again, not much in life is, right? Sometimes, I don’t even know what my point is.
Looking sucks. Not making money sucks. Being grilled, judge and having to put on a show sucks. Employers don’t really give you the opportunity to showcase your skills, abilities and personality during the ubiquitous Craigslist cattle calls. Most gigs I’ve gotten however, were not advertised. They were either word-of-mouth opportunities or walk-ins to bars that weren’t advertising. Cattle calls give you the worst odds – even for the cream of the crop, best looking and most talented folks. The reason is that, alongside the unqualified, there are 3 dozen people being interviewed just like you.
It’s a crap shoot and numbers game. I’m not deterred however. I’ve played this game enough to know how it works. I’m extremely confident in my abilities and know I’ll get in somewhere soon. Along with the aforementioned personal advantages, I have current environmental factors on my side. Winter is a rough time to be looking for a bartending gig. Luckily, it’s Spring time. That means, rooftop and patio bars that don’t have tents or retractable roofs are gearing up for the nicer weather. That translates into the very high demand for seasonal bartenders. In the right place – like The Standard, The Gansevoort, Thom, migratory Long Island spots in The Hamptons, Montauk and Shelter Island, etc – it can be extremely lucrative as long as the weather holds up. Even though it may last only 5 or 6 months, quite often, it’s a door into a permanent position and and regular shifts ,indoors, in the off-season if the owners and management like you (read: you make them money).
Wish me luck wherever I land.