Life: May 2006 Archives

First Impressions

| No Comments

With the new bar being open, a lot of new and old faces are coming into the establishment and judging us. There is a certain level of responsibility that I feel to make sure everyone is treated well as a bartender. Some things we can control, and some things we can't control.

The bar is new and as I put it, "We are still getting our legs". There are quirks to our bar that is just unavoidable because, simply, everything is new. For example someone ordered a pitcher of red Sangria this weekend. First off, I never made a Sangria. So I had to scurry around and find the managers on how they wanted us to make this (thank god someone printed off a recipe). Then I had to find the ingredients. Sliced apples. Sliced oranges. Grapes. None were upstairs, so I had to run downstairs to find them. Then I had to slice them. I didn't know where the cutting boards where. I finally found them and then needed a knife. I went to the kitchen to get a knife and then sliced the apples and orange slices. Then we needed to use Mondavi merlot. I couldn't find any Mondavi, so I used Turner Road (which is our wine-by-the-glass Merlot and I know you Sangria experts out there are going to howl, "But a TRUE Sangria uses Rioja!!"). I followed the instructions and had no idea how it tasted, but all I know is that I made 10 more that night so people were drinking them. By the end of the night I could make a pitcher in about 30-45 seconds.

Now the point to all that is it took me like a solid 8-10 minutes to make my first Sangria. Maybe those people were sitting outside thinking, "Christ this Sangria is taking forever!" They leave the bar and that's it. Forever they remember how long it took to get a pitcher and they tell everyone how miserable the service is. It doesn't matter that by the end of the night I could make a Sangria in a moments notice. People rarely spread praise for good service and are more apt to tell negative things about your service.

Another example. On Saturday night it was fairly slow until about 11pm. Then we got really busy. The busiest that I have seen this bar and fairly typical what i'd see on some weekends when it was Dipper's. There were a lot of people who wanted a drink NOW. I certainly felt pressured to serve everyone and I go as fast as I can, but you can only serve people as fast as you can serve them. Of course Murphy's Law came into full effect. One of our cash registers stopped working. The POS system we have is new. Each bartender has their own drawer, which they are responsible for being accurate, and the system is much slower than a regular cash register. If someone orders 10 drinks from me, I need to enter all the drinks, get a subtotal, get the money and then get the change. Its very good for inventory control but it absolutely slows us down (i'm giving the management suggestions to speed it up and it has gotten much better, in my opinion). The person on the other side of the bar could care less about the POS system. They are simply trying to get a drink as fast as they can and if their first impresson of the bar is negative, they really aren't going to come back - there are plenty of other bars in town that will serve them faster.

So with the register not working, a customer ordered a Guinness and Yuengling from the other bartender. We lose the Yuengling keg about 3/4 of the way through a pour into the pint glass. We send the bar back down to swap kegs. As I was serving my customers I could just see the people waiting for the Yuengling & Gunness seething. I can see them spinning around and throwing their arms up and angry that the world has dammed them at this moment to get slow service. As I walk by one of them says, "Hey!" to me and I look, she says, "Can you just serve us the (partially full) Yuengling?". I'm like, "No problem. We are changing the kegs now and we will top it off for you later." The reaction I get from her was one of not really caring about the keg being changed or us topping her out - but that she just wants alcohol - fast.

I give her the drinks and she throws down her money with what I would call "pissy anger" and she goes to her friends in the corner. I grab the money, walk around the bar (while other customers are going bonkers to get my attention and i'm ignoring them). I walk up to her and hand her the money back. She is saying "No, no." and I stop her and said to her slowly and calmly, "I know you were waiting a long time for your drink. The keg kicked and a drawer just went bonkers on us and stopped working. We want to serve you as fast as we can. I'm less concerned about you paying for your drink and more concerned about you walking out of here and being upset with our service." By the end of me telling her this she went from being irritated to a nice smile on her face. I don't know if I really changed her opinion, but I certainly think I made her feel like we actually cared about her business.

I was working with a bartender on Sunday night. I never worked with her before. I asked her if she was here when it was Dipper's and she said, "No way. Everyone knew Dipper's sucked." I was taken a bit back. I worked at the bar for four years. So I said, "Really? How many times did you come here?". She said, "Once. I came in got a beer and left."

That was it. She had a beer and left and her first and only impression of the old bar was that she didn't like it (and that her friends didn't like it, either, which reinforced the negative stereotype). You can't please everyone. There are going to be people who walk in the new bar, take one look around and either hate it or love it. Lots of us worked very hard at Dipper's to make it a place where we got a regular crowd that we would see weekly. With the new bar we have to start all over again. Get a new regular crowd and impress new people. It certainly is a daunting task to start over again.

I even got an email from someone "reviewing" the bar. They asked some questions and I answered them via email. I don't know who is reviewing it, I forgot to ask. I used to do restaurant reviews a few years back and my methods evolved. The problem with a lot of my older reviews is that the are based on one meal. This can be a bit unfair. Like I was just describing before, bars and restaurants can have bad nights. Prices can change (for example we lowered the prices of the hamburgers). Some people can have an "off" night. When I am reviewing now, I try to eat at a restaurant a few times before writing up something on them. Like Maru. I go there about once a week now, because its so tasty, they know me and do things that make me, as a customer, feel special (like they will just make me an appetizer that I didn't order as there way of saying "Thanks for your business").

I think I try to do the same thing when i'm behind the bar, too. On Sunday a patron was at the bar, and they thought the wine tasted bad like it was open for a long time. I told them that it was a brand new bottle, and I even sampled the wine myself (from a fresh glass) and it tasted fine to me. Rather than arguing with her, I simply opened a new bottle and poured a fresh glass. She seemed content and we talked about wine afterwards and how what you eat before you have a glass of wine can affect its taste. Also we chatted about how up to 10% of wine bottles can be corked. My thought was that "Big deal if I am opening another bottle, i'd rather take the loss and keep this one person happy."

You never have a second chance to make a good first impression.

Falling In Like

| No Comments

Over my years of dating and 'minor relationships' I haven't fallen in love before, but I have "Fallen In Like", where I very much enjoy the other person's company and get early feelings for them.

I really don't write about my past or current relationships too much on the blog for various reasons. For one, I really haven't been in any relationship before that lasted more than three months. My high school years, like I wrote before, was like living in the Sahara looking for water when it came to women. College I made plenty of girl friends - a hook up here and there - and a one month fling with a straw haired freshman from England when I was a senior.

Next it was destination Hoboken. My super status of a senior and fun with the underclasses reset to being a nobody from nowhere with no money. The newly graduated senior class women dating the seasoned veteran male population of Hoboken and New York, while I toiled in obscurity and perseverance. Years pass. I met a girl playing in the Hoboken dart league. We had fun but were from different worlds. Me, from the suburbs of Philadelphia, and her, from the streets of North Bergen. Good wavelength, fun vibe, but it was doomed to various external factors, not excluding her baggage from a previous relationship and my inexperience in being in one. She broke up with me over the phone. What a chickenshit move.

More years tick away, with more dates, new girl friends, new best friends forever. No one clicking until I meet a very special one. The timing wasn't right our first go-around but so much was there. Nearly everything. But it wasn't enough. The chemistry wasn't right. The trust was lost. We tried a second go-around two years later. The foundation was cracked, my selfishness was in high gear and I was more pleasing my own needs than hers - she had to let me go. Broke up with me while I was at my lowest point in years. My bones and my heart had to recover at the same time.

Cut to a year later. My leg is getting stronger. My heart healed. My priorities evolving. Self confidence growing. I always felt like the gawky 16 year old, that doesn't change. Maybe its good it doesn't change because she may have never noticed me if I was the typical arrogant haughty self-aware Hoboken yuppie. For years I crushed on her, even while I did my second-go with the Special One. New girl was different. Unbelievably different, yet familiar. I wrote about her. Inspired by her.

I try the same chickenshit moves with her that I tried with every other girl I like for the last 34 years. Be careful. Be nice. Be funny. Be friendly. Be chickenshit.

  • "Do you find that this approach usually works, or, let me guess, you've never tried it before. In fact, you don't normally approach girls, am I right? The truth is that you're a quite, sensitive type but if I'm prepared to take a chance I might just get to know the inner you: witty, adventurous, passionate, loving, loyal, a little bit crazy, a little bit bad, but, hey, don't us girls just love that?"

Get called out on it by her. I'm forced to either be bold or go away. I choose the former. It works. Score one for the good guys.

Don't get too excited. Its just a few dates. Can't get too excited it could be over if I start to actually enjoy it. Don't tell anyone, they won't really care. Some will be happy for your gain and others hoping for you to fail, while they wear false smiles and speak poisonous words behind your back.

Keep going. Move forward. Live in the moment. Enjoy the now. Fall in Like again?

Like? Love? At what moment do the lines start to get blurred. At what moment do you start to overthink the situation. At what moment do you start to believe in the literature, the movies, the stage, the heartfelt words you have heard others speak over the years? Less thoughts about you, more thoughts about her. Never once thinking that it didn't feel right. Earning trust and paying it back twofold. The voice of a cynic disappearing. Learning new priorities about yourself. Learning that maybe what you thought what you liked, what your type was, isn't really your type at all.

Falling in Like.

I'm falling in like.

That's what you say because you are protecting yourself, son.

I'm falling in like.

It's only been a month.

I'm falling in like.

Don't get ahead of yourself, boy.

I'm falling in like.

Oh, the posibilities. But she is leaving.

Don't overthink, boy.

August is the deadline. Leaving for school. Why bother even writing it now, when I will just fail again. More heartbreak.

It can't be heartbreak, son, because you only like her, right?

What happens if I stop liking her? What happens if it leads to more and it gets ripped away.

Can't think that way. Just enjoy it. Have fun.



Moral Compass

| 1 Comment

I wasn't always a choir boy.

Well. Actually I never was a choir boy. Growning up I was a very wild kid, by suburban standards. Living in Richboro, for all the times I try to romanticize it, was somewhat boring. As a kid you would need to find things to do. Play a sport, ride our dirtbikes, go fishing at a local pond, climb trees, or get into mischief.

Mischief came in many forms. We used to get bottle rockets and would line them up, across the street, at a neighbor's front door. One of us would run up, "Knock and Run" while the others waited across the street with our matches drawn. The person would open the front door, we would light the bottle rocket and run. Yes - the rocket would launch straight into the person's house and explode. I have no idea why we never got arrested.

Other events were just criminal. We used to go to newly constructed homes and vandalize them. I'm not proud of this, in fact looking back i'm somewhat embarassed that I did this. But we did. We would go to homes that were about 50% completed. The frame was up and the builders would put fixtures in like bathtubs, sinks, toilets and mirrors. We would just be hopped up on Mountain Dew and too many Saturday afternoon Kung-Fu movies and go to town on these places. Lots of times the floor level doors would be locked, but the 2nd level windows were open. Bad, bad, idea. We would scramble up, open a window and destroy the inside of the house. Mirrors shattered, porcelain tubs smashed, paint thrown. It wasn't JUST me, there were a group of us, but it did get wild sometimes.

This was like in 1979, so I hate to say, "Things were different", but they were in a way. We weren't thinking we were destroying personal property - it was just a house and the big fat cat builders wouldn't lose money because they had so much of it. Sort of like how people download stolen music now-a-days...

The next day we would bring our red wagon filled with lemonaide to the construction guys and sell them glasses for $.50 each. The construction guys loved it and would say, "Hey kids. Do you know any kids that vandalize our homes?" We would just look all innocent like, "No sir! We don't know anyone who would do that!". Some of the construction guys would know it was us and some didn't. But they had no proof and i'm sure their insurance costs would just cover the vandalism. We never got in trouble over that.

We used to take fireworks and blow up mailboxes. We would use M80s. Now I don't know if they are "true" M80s or not - but they were powerful enough to blow up a mailbox. We could even fish with them, toss it into the water, the fuse would still work underwater and BANG - the dazed fish would float to the surface. They have a slow fuse and you would have to be a backwater idiot to be holding one when it goes off. They were fairly powerful and i'm still amazed that I was 8-10 years old running around with these things in 1980's. Again, different time, folks.

We would have fun blowing up mailboxes, which we did in other developments to avoid getting in trouble. But one day one of us read how it was a FEDERAL CRIME to destroy a mailbox. We never knew. We stopped destroying mailboxes because as much as we were a bunch of petty criminal kids - we weren't about to start felonies. What would my parents think?

I mean my mother was strict. I remember one day, the first day I stole anything, it was a metal jet airplane. The wings could extend or collapse, and it was painted blue. I don't remember stealing it. But I do remember Mom asking where I got it. I tried to make something up, but I think I was 6 at the time and my lying skills aren't as honed as they are today.

She marched me down to the store and make me confess to the owner that I stole the airplane! Then I returned the airplane and she grounded me. It was a lesson learned and to this day I haven't forgotten the lesson learned: Learn how to lie better to your parents.

Just kidding.

But I think even with my faults and mischef that my parents both did a good job at making me a good kid. You read stories about kids in Hoboken who steal things & break the mirrors off cars. My first reaction is always like many I think about the Jersey City or Projects kids. You know what...I did that when I was a kid and I grew up in the suburbs.

I get the feeling that other people did, too. But everyone likes to paint a rosey picture on their lives and themselves and don't admit to that very often. Hey, i'll admit it - I fucked up as a kid a few times. Just gotta hope the kids get caught and they have parents who straighten them out to become responsible adults. Not like this idiot.

My moral compass was off from time to time, but it was because of my parents that I got it set straight before I got into big trouble. I'm not perfect today, not by any means, but I think if it wasn't for them I could have ended up a less than responsible adult.

Thanks Mom & Dad.

The Most Popular Shots In Hoboken


I was trying to come up with a mix list for Mikie's. Some are drinks and some are shots. I'm listing the most common mixes I have run into over the years and excluding the obvious ones, like Kamakazie or Car Bombs.

The most commonly messed up drinks include:
Sex on the Beach
Bay Breeze
Sea Breeze
For a Bay Breeze or Sea Breeze, My trick for remembering the grapefruit over the pineapple was the phrase: "Bay is sweeter than the Sea". Pineapple is sweeter, and that's what's in a Bay Breeze.

The more commonly messed up shots include:
Purple Motherfucker
Buttery Nipple*
Red Headed Slut
Surfer on Acid
Chocolate Cake
Oatmeal Cookie
Baby Guinness*
Mind Eraser*
Jolly Rancher
Alabama Slammer*
Red Death*
Blow Job
Sicilian Kiss*
Incredible Hulk
Liquid Cocaine

*I knew how to make these off the top of my head...

The reason why was it seems that the "new crowd" of people at the bar are just ordering some fucked up shots. Back in the days of Dipper's the most exotic shots we had were SoCo Lime. Oh, sure, we got the occasional kid who would try to order a Scooby Snack and I would suggest they tell me what's in it. They never knew, and I wouldn't make it.

Last Saturday had someone try to order a Purple Motherfucker. I tried really hard not to roll my eyes and suggested a few other more basic ones - the bar was moderately full and speed was the key. They settled on something else.

Then I got another customer, when it was slower. Boy was this fun. He wanted vodka & pineapple. Ok, no problem. I serve it and he takes a taste and says to his girl friend, "Wow, this is weak." I told them to wait a moment.

So I grabbed a rocks glass, filled it up with ice and grabbed a cheap bottle of Barton's Rum to demonstrate a "proper pour". I personally find the 3 second pour is the right pour, some people think 4 seconds is better. Whatever. I know how to pour a drink that will keep 99% of the customers happy. I was dealing with a 1% customer who is used to a heavy handed bartender. I show them 1...2...3 and show how much liquor gets poured. I went on to explain this was what most normal pours are like, and if they want a double, I can pour them a double, but you get charged double.

They said, "No, thanks." and the girl then ordered 5 shots of Jolly Rancher. Again, no idea how to make it. But I had a book with recipes and grabbed it, turned to the page and then asked her, "OK, it says it gets Midori, Peach Schnapps and Cranberry, does that sound right?", She says, "Fine, just make it STRONG!" and she gets her 4 other girlfriends up to the bar.

Ok, maybe she didn't hear me but how strong can I make this? It had Midori and Schnapps. So I pour mostly those two ingredients and a splash of cranberry and serve the 5 shots.

Nope. They aren't happy.

"That doesn't look right!", one exclaimed.

"Just drink it.", the girl who ordered sighed.

I tried to explain that she said STRONG - so I only put a splash of cranberry in there.

They paid their tab and left in a huff right after. I could tell immediately that they were either friends with the owners, just by their attitude. At little while later, I pulled the manager & owners aside and told them the story. Can't please everyone.

So I figured it might be a good idea for the bartenders, and the patrons, to have a shot list. If you order a "Oatmeal Cookie" shot, it will list, for the patron, what will be in the shot. Then we can avoid any issues like this again & help us bartenders remember all the crazy shots.

See any you think are missing? Let me know. Remember I left off the simple stuff, like Kamakazie, Bomb shots, Soco Lime, etc. Also i'm not really including the obscure ones, like a B52 - who orders that?

Mea Culpa

| No Comments

One of the problems with my blog is that I sometimes don't understand the fine line between honesty and being rude. I wrote a few months ago about my cousin's show, The Loop, basically saying that it wasn't that great, and I hoped it would get better with time.

Sadly, the only part that was read by my family members and relatives was the "It wasn't great" part. This turned into a few emails to me about how I shouldn't have said that and that i'm a terrible son/brother/cousin/nephew for writing it.

This isn't the first time. A few of my older stories contain changed names. The people reading those entries, get extremely angry when their stories are online, even if only a handful of people in town may actually know who I am writing about. It is hard to share the tales of my life without addressing the people within them.

So it comes down to a conundrum. How can I write about my life, and my feelings without being honest? Certainly tact comes into play, which was never my strong suit. I'm much worse in person, where I will say exactly what I am thinking with nary a filter between my brain and my mouth. It gets even worse when I'm hanging out with Captain Morgan.

At least with writing I have the chance to review what i'm writing about, edit it and try to think about the audience. But even then I still make gaffes.

So this is a formal mea culpa for my cousin Pam, who doesn't read my blog, but her mother does from time to time. Even though I have written favorably of her works in the past, and wanted to give an honest, but not overly critical review of her TV show, I should have used better judgement in how I wrote it.

For those of you keeping score at home, Pam's TV show "The Loop" has been picked up by Fox for another season.

Congrats Pam! Please accept my mea maxima culpa for ever doubting your show.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming of sarcasm and wit directed towards non-family members.

Summer's Start BBQ


Every year that I am able to - I have a BBQ called Summer's Start. This year is the 5th year hosting it, and I just like doing it. The party is just a celebration of summer's arrival. Letting my friends meet my roommate's friends, a bit of Hoboken Social Networking, if you will. Our rules are that we make all the food & our guests bring the booze (unless you are Jon's sister who is an incredible cook, and she can bring any food she likes).

We had some good years and some bad years. Some years where I got mugged the night before. Some years where we have a torrential downpour (and yet we still rented a party tent to keep the BBQ going).

We might do it on a Friday or Saturday in June. Haven't decided on the date yet.

I was going through my address book and deleting a lot of names. Adding a bunch more. Hoping I don't forget anyone.

The tricky thing about parties in Hoboken is who to invite. Sure, I have lots of friends. 10 years living here and bartending helps that list. But then you get into the hard habit of WHO do you invite and WHO can't you invite. It is a wild web we weave in Hoboken, because of the degrees of seperation between friends and enemies. People either date or were friends and then they have a "falling out".

Friend A & Friend B hate each other. But if you invite Friend C - they are friends with Friend A and are angry you chose Friend B over Friend A and won't come to the BBQ unless Friend A is invited.

Dude, I swear to God, Hoboken is like a mini-High School sometimes.

Or Friend A and Friend B dated each other, and you were friendly with both, and they have common Friends C, D, E, F, G. You invite just one friend - and it becomes fairly clear that you are having a party and they didn't get the official invite. Are some friends MORE of a friend than other friends?

I was thinking about how I would define a "friend" in my life:

1. Inner Circle: People who I know will run through fire for me and me for them. They can be trusted and are someone that i'm very close with. There are only about a handful of these kind of people in my life.

2. Close Friends: People that I like to hang out with on a regular basis. Normally ones that I email or call at least a few times a month. You make plans with these people at times. Some of these close friends can be close to Inner Circle or close to Casual Friends.

3. Casual Friends: People you might know from the bar, or a friend of a close friend. You recognize who they are on the sidewalk, might have some small talk and leave.

4. Random Friends: You might see them a few times a year, at a random party or the gym or on a softball league team or from the Eagles Club. Someone you got along with, but really don't see that often. You can pick up where you left off with them and talk about "whats new", maybe even exchange numbers but don't really call them.

Now I got to start making my list and checking it twice. Figuring out who will be naughty or nice.

New Beginning


It is a wonderful thing to experience a new beginning. It can come in many forms, and this weekend was the soft open for Mikie's Squared.

Chaos reigned supreme. Glasses, bottles, water, leaks and confusion were on the menu. I didn't have to bear the brunt of working the Friday night shift. I stopped in and watched as the new bartenders, managers and owners all grappled behind the bar with the small crowd of 30 or so people. I smiled a small smile watching them try to cope with the situation and ruefully wondered what I was in for on Saturday night. The new POS system was a bit intimidating. The restock of the bar placed new bottles in new coolers (to me), and I knew it would be a while before the bar found its legs and rythym.

Saturday soon approached and my shift was from 6:30pm to 3am. After watching Friday night, I actually went in with a good attitude and was excited to be behind the bar. For the patrons on the other side of the bar, many don't realize that there a lot of fun to bartending. You get to goof off and entertain people while they give you money. Sure, there are downsides. Service industry is a service industry, but when you have been doing these kind of jobs all your life, serving people is like breathing. There are some people who can't do it. Maybe its ego or pride or work ethic. Hey, the moment is stops being fun is the moment I quit.

The beginning of the night wasn't smooth. The new POS system took a bit to get used to. I didn't quite understand that I could just take cash and use it like a register. So I started my first few customers on credit card tabs. Poor Timmy Flynn. He was the first regular I saw and was a good sport about it.

It was nice actually, a lot of regulars either stopped in for a drink or to say hello. The bar is still in a sort of flux. It isn't a finished product, but it certainly is getting there. If you were a regular from Dipper's and walked in - the basic design of the bar is the same, just lacquered, sanded and polished to a greater standard. Gone are the dart board and the Golden Tee machine. Replaced by wine racks, leather booths and plasma TVs. Talking to patrons I had mixed reactions. Nearly every girl I spoke to loved the new changes. They actually LOVED that there wasn't a Golden Tee machine that they lost their boyfriend to for an hour, while they sipped wine at the bar. One boyfriend ruefully said, "If I wanted wine and conversation, I guess I could do that at home, couldn't I?" He had a point, but bars really are about the social interaction without being social, aren't they? We go to a bar to find a sense of community, but keep to our own social circles for the most part.

The night passed and was without any major issues, with exception to some slowness on cashing people out on the new POS system. A new beginning, with new patrons and old. Only time will tell how the residents take to Mikie Squared.

Life: January 2018: Monthly Archives

Monthly Archives


Powered by Movable Type 5.2.7

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Life category from May 2006.

Life: April 2006 is the previous archive.

Life: June 2006 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Join Zipcar and get $25 in free driving!