Lookin' Good at 58

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Valuable Lesson Learned

So on we go continuing to move up the ladder of the bartending trade when I left you last Monday working at a fine spot as a Head Bartender called the Credit Valley Golf Club where I was hired by the Food and Beverage Manager who was the husband of someone with whom I worked with a about a year before.

I introduced a simple par stock system there where an empty bottle would be replaced by a full bottle to keep the numbers of each kind of liquor the same throughout the days. It was easy to see if something was out of wack this way. For instance , if there was one empty rye bottle but there were two missing on the shelf where did the other one go was the question. Usually we would be able to track it down especially when there were big functions and many bottles went out to the banquet bar. So mistakes were avoided and some form of cost was maintained and although I wasn't privy to such information everyone was delighted by the effort I was putting forth.

I got my personal life a bit in order with a place of my own , albeit , just a room and all my belongings in one place. I was settling in or so I thought.......

About 4 months into the job the F and B Manager who hired me quit over a disagreement with the GM. I could see this happening as it was building up and my friend just didn't get along with the guy although I to this day am not quite clear as to why. But when he left he did say that wherever he was going he was going to bring me along with him. I didn't know if that was a good thing or a bad thing when he said it. I just bade him farewell and thanked him for the job at the Golf Club.


A few weeks later I get a call from him and now he is a fine dining waiter at the Zachary Restaurant in the Bristol Place Hotel. This is like a 4 Diamond Restaurant with heavy hitters eating there so it didn't come to any surprise for me that he would land something like that with his experience. But here is the reason for his call and that is Dr. Livingstons lounge - nightclub upstairs is looking for a bartender and would I be interested because he is going to use his weight and all to get me an interview for this job.

They were looking for someone with at least 5 year's experience but he says not to worry cause I can do it. Well I didn't at first think the same way because I had up to then less than a year and none of it working in an environment like this one.

But to check it out I went for the interview with the head bartender who was in charge of all the bars in the hotel and in a couple of days got a call that I was hired.

I left the golf club and thanked them very much for the 6 months I spent there and headed to the Bristol Place. It was late 1980 and the disco was all the rage. I studied and worked hard on the recipes and had made a lot of mixed , shaken , and stirred drinks in the year since I graduated from the course.


There was the smell and sweat of money in this place. The bar had about 11 stools plus there was an area behind the bar that could take in another 15-20 people who had to get their drink from me. On a Friday and Saturday night this place was jammed. The service bartender would be serving 3 waitresses and I would be doing the stool bar. It was full of characters with big bucks. There was one guy who would be running a tab and when it got busiest he would ask me to buy the bar a round and put it on his bill. That was plenty of drinks. People would be hanging over the cash register to order from me. It was non-stop. I used to make these 3 oz martinis and the price was $3.85 for one.

My sales on a Friday night or Saturday from the bar would be over a $1000. Back in 1980 that was a bit. At least for me it was. The tips were great and my skills as a bartender were multiplied 10 fold working in a place like that.

I worked lunches too and I had a way to get the rum and coke to the chef to get a good NY Steak cooked up for me for dinner. At the bar there was the tray used for dirty glasses and there was this busser named Jose who would signal to me the chef wanted his rum and coke. So I would pour about 4 oz of white rum and just color it with coke and put it somewhere on the tray. I would signal to the busser it was done and he would pick up the tray and carry it to the back and nourish the chef. The problem was he would never be happy with just one and so I would get my steak after two or three of these. Finally one day he got so hammered he got a warning. Served him right the greedy SOB!

Anyway a couple of months later after having started there the Head Bartender got fired. I think the reason was he just drank too much. The first inventory I did with him he drank a bottle of Haig Pinch Single Malt Scotch , you know the funny shaped bottle. He would just guzzle the stuff.

I didn't worry though as I was quite happy there and enjoying that adrenaline rush during the evenings and especially Friday and Saturday when the live band would come in and do their disco dance music thing. I was getting friendly with some of the waitresses and the future looked bright.

Well as so often happens at least early on to me I had to learn from my mistakes and this one was a doozy! The new manager of Dr. Livingstons on a busy Saturday night decided to do me a favor and asked me if he could help me close and as there was always a massive clean up I obliged. Well before I could think fast enough he made a bee line for the till and started to do a read and do my cash. After which he said here it is and good night.

When the service bartender and I counted up our tips it worked out to about $40 each. We were shattered and madder than hell. I let what no one should ever let anyone do and that is let someone count your cash the end of the night. My lesson learned and the creep was going to pay.

He was in denial and I had no proof so I had to tell my friend in the DR I couldn't work for this asshole anymore and I worked the next shift and never went back. I couldn't face him. The other stool bartender had left just a day before and so when I left he was in a hole.

I didn't leave without a job though as all I had to do was make a couple of calls but I was down , real down after letting that guy do what he did. I was learning on the go but it was painful.

The job which was supposed to last for quite a while lasted just 3 months. So in just about 14 months the job list was already this much.

Hilton
Willows Inn
Holiday Inn
Credit Valley Golf Club
Bristol Place Hotel
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