08 May 2009 @ 9:39 AM 

Lemme tell you a story.

Every restaurant, bar, and brewpub knows the importance of good waitstaff and bartenders, but I’d like to underscore this with personal experience: my personal story as a consumer and NOT as an enormous beer geek with a huge ego.

I currently get paid by UNC Chapel Hill. Every Friday that I can, I like to take myself out to lunch. Since it’s closest to campus my usual stop was the Top of the Hill. Great burger, decent brewpub (even if they all share a similar character that I can’t, for the life of me, pin down), and a revolving door of stunningly beautiful waitstaff who can’t be bothered to tell me the time of day. I don’t know why. I’m unobtrusive, I tip really well, and sometimes I want to talk about the beer. How bad is that? (I should note: The assistant brewmaster recognizes me on sight, says hi, and talks beer with me – even did at the CBC. It always makes me smile. Great guy.)

After a while, I got a little irritated with waiting for the waitstaff at TotH and decided that, long lunches be damned, I was going to head down to the Carolina Brewery. Mind you, this requires me to go get my car, go find a place to park at the brewery, have lunch, then drive back and walk in from my parking garage. I cannot, in any way, eat my lunch in under an hour there. In order to do this, I have to come into work early or leave late… at least in theory.

I still go back to TotH occasionally, but not often. Why? Because the Carolina Brewery makes me feel loved.

Of course, there’s still a revolving door of waitstaff and bartenders. After all, it’s a college town. You can’t keep people around for that long. Since the 2nd or 3rd week that I’ve been going there, when I walk in the door I am generally greeted with, “Erik! What’s up?” (The exceptions are when there’s somebody new behind the bar.)

Why on earth would I want to go anywhere else?

On Tuesday night, I was out at a different bar enjoying a few lovely Belgian beers when I ran into my normal Friday lunch bartender. He was watching a show across the street at the Cat’s Cradle, and had come over to the bar I was in for a drink. He was wearing a Carolina Brewery Flagship IPA t-shirt. “Hey! Erik!” He introduced me to his lady friend, we shot the shit. He asked me if I knew what the pint night at Tyler’s Taproom was that night and then gestured to his t-shirt with pride. “See you Friday!” he said as he left the bar.

Brewpubs, take note: This guy is a model representative for his brewpub. They couldn’t ask for a better employee, and it should be rewarded. Happy, friendly, interested in his customers and proud and knowledgeable of the beer that they serve. It makes me a loyal (and frequent) customer.

Hell, I can’t wait to go to lunch today.

What about you? What makes a great bartender/waitstaff in your estimation? Where are they?

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