I was very excited when I was recruited to work at the new addition to Capitol Hill’s nightlife offerings, Q. I was even more excited when I saw the design of the main bar. A round bar with no clear service areas was sure to be an obstacle for local bartenders and guests alike. “Where do I get my drink?” I have tended many bars like this back east without issue. Guests are not trained to stand in single file lines in front of service stations in most cities. When I moved here, it was one of the first things I noticed when I went to Purr. “Why doesn’t anyone just go up to the empty space along the bar to get a cocktail?” So, of course, I tried this. I was completely ignored and other patrons got upset with me for ‘skipping the line.’ Q may just be the nightlife experience to change the way Seattle drinks.
Throughout the opening process and all the training sessions, my fellow bartenders were excited for game day. “Which station will I be at?” was the commonly asked question prior to opening. I understood what the bar design was going for and what the challenges would be for both the customer and the bartender. I knew, come opening day, it would be like old times for me. Running back and forth like a chicken with my head cut off is certainly my cup of tea. I love the energy and the ability to satisfy multiple guests at a time. It was exactly that!
The grand opening was a resounding success! Maybe a bit overstaffed, but definitely a crash course in learning this system of service. I had a good 15 feet of bar space to cover. It was a rush I hadn’t experienced since my days at Town Danceboutique in DC and Voyeur Nightclub in Philly. My happiest times have been in those environments. It was interesting to see how the rest of the bartenders coped with this adjustment. Or, I should say it would have been interesting to see it. I was so busy that I barely had time to look around me. FUN!! I did notice how confused the guests were by this method of service. It wasn’t hard to coach my boys. “Hey baby, stand wherever you want, I see you and got you.” I found myself saying that a few times.
It was amazing to see the change throughout the night; there were hot boys all around the bar waiting for drinks. It was 2 deep along the bar…I don’t think I have ever said ‘2 deep’ before. Anyway…It was a lot of fun and I know my boys loved it. I know the concern with this type of service is, how will the bartender know I am next? That is certainly a challenge on our end. I try to move along the bar in one direction and back in a rhythm so not to miss anyone, but of course with any system that is human run, there can be mistakes. Let’s avoid these mistakes: Just shout out, “Hey Bill, you missed me babe.” I guarantee you will served quickly. Get to know your bartenders. (That line may not work on ‘tenders not named Bill….) I would love to hear some of your feedback regarding this ‘theatre in the round’ style of bartending. How can we serve you better? Take our shirts off? I am kidding. Ok, not totally kidding. In all seriousness, Q’s goal is to bring to Seattle a nightlife experience unlike any other. Music, lighting, decor and even our style of service sets us apart. Give this style a service a whirl and see the difference when you go to other venues. Theatre in the round works and more guests get to see the show!