Night in the life of a bartender

A beer is served at Burny's Sports Bar. Citizens like Burny's because of the relaxed family-like atmosphere and fast service.

As a community of people at the bar and not behind it, we view the bartender as a convenience, or depending on how fast you get your drink, a hindrance. With that comes some ignorance. Do we really understand the life of a bartender on a Saturday night after a home Bearcat win? Or even on a regular weekend night?

Tyler Olgesby, bartender from local favorite Burny’s Sports Bar, knows exactly what a weekend night entails and what he has to prepare for. His first few hours consist of preparing for the night ahead, checking kegs and coolers and keeping the few customers' drinks filled until the crowd arrives.

But before he knows it, the crowd has showed up, and he’s got a bar full of people.

“I generally try to work [serving customers] from left to right, in almost a circular motion, without even realizing it.”

At Burny’s, there are no computers or technology to keep track of all the drinks getting poured, but Olgesby describes their method of tracking drinks as a dependent on the other employees.

“We’re a little bit old school; we have the slips…we have to hand write everything out and punch it in the register. That gets tough…You have to trust your employees.”

And with a rush, he says that it is very easy to get carried away, to the point of just habitually pouring a regular’s drink without asking and forgetting to mark it on their tab.

“You create your habits to be good habits,” Oglesby said.

Another part of the job is knowing drinks, mixers and shots. Oglesby said the best way to learn is purely experience.

“You’re never going to know them all [drinks],” said Oglesby, but he emphasizes the importance of knowing the alcohols and mixers and being ready to make anything. 

Sure enough, last call has come, and eventually the dreaded, repeated yell of “bar’s closed” will be heard throughout. 

“That’s probably the hardest part of the job. The last 20 minutes, trying to get everyone outside, that’s when you start to get the worst of people. Even though they’re just giving you crap, they don’t understand the seriousness of the situation,” Olgesby said.

The seriousness of the situation is the bar getting fined for anyone remaining inside if the Maryville Public Safety were to show up. Olgesby says that there’s no bias, no one has permission to stay.

Once everyone is out, there is one last thing that is entailed in a bartender’s night. Clean up.

“As soon as the last one’s out, lock the door behind them. That’s when the bouncers/doormen really earn their cut of the pay.”

The bartenders work on getting everything cleaned up behind the bar, and the bouncers help clean up the rest of the building. But Olgesby said that for about 10 minutes, sometime after everyone has left, the staff sits down and talks about anything funny or crazy that happened to them that some of the other doormen or bartenders might have missed.

Eventually, around 2:30 or 2:45 a.m., everyone is finished for the night and heads home. If that was a Friday night, they come back and do it again on Saturday. 

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