Student bartenders serve up good times

Online Poster

By Brandon Bridges

Bartending in Campustown has become a highly coveted job. The job boasts a variety of perks, ranging from the great tips to the fun and exciting atmosphere. But along with the Campustown bars – which offer great location and atmosphere – come the large crowds, scarce shifts and possible police raids for underage drinking.

With a plethora of bars emerging outside Campustown, including one inside the recently opened Ruby Tuesday in Champaign, students looking to bartend have more establishments to choose from.

Walking into Nargile, 207 W. Clark, is like walking into a different world compared to the Campustown bars. The loud music and large crowds have subsided, and something highly amenable remains: conversation and atmosphere. The student population in Nargile is minimal at best; most of the clientele are adults.

Many Champaign bars boast the same amenities, so it is little wonder why some students choose to bartend away from campus.

Ann DeLorenzo, junior in LAS, who works at Rock’s Bar, 25 E. Springfield Ave., said she knows many students who have chosen to bartend outside of Campustown because of the improved working conditions and atmosphere.

“There is just less hassle in working off campus. Bars are calmer, neater and there are less crowds and inebriated people to deal with,” DeLorenzo said. “I think people just find it easier and more enjoyable to bartend off campus.”

Kate Nelson, junior in LAS, said she likes the tipping system used outside of Campustown better. Nelson explained that Campustown bars have managers who distribute the tips out to the staff at the end of the evening, whereas other bars allow the bartenders to portion the tips out among each other.

“It’s a fairer system that way. The people who are doing the work control their own monetary rewards, not the managers,” Nelson said.

Nelson also said the older clientele in bars outside of Campustown generally tips better, increasing the incentive to work longer hours. Also, drinks are generally more expensive, which also helps

tipping.

Nelson said the older clientele does tend to be a bit more demanding in their expectations of the quality of drinks. “They will send a drink back if it is not made correctly, so you have to know what you’re doing. But I think that’s part of being a good bartender anyways,” she said.

But Campustown bartenders see many advantages to choosing to work there. Kris Yi, junior in business, said she personally prefers the fun atmosphere and great location of bartending at Kam’s.

“My friends come to visit me, which wouldn’t happen often if I bartended off campus. The people make this job the most fun, and on campus is where all of my friends are, so it makes the most sense for me,” Yi said.

Yi said that while other bartenders do have an advantage to make more money because of expensive drinks, she still thinks bartending in Campustown pays well because student bartenders attract their friends and others, which brings in more people.

Pat Gerst, senior in communications, said he prefers to bartend outside of Campustown because the atmosphere of those bars are what bartending is all about. Gerst said he enjoys the added interaction with patrons in a subdued atmosphere, as well as the opportunity to get to know his clientele.

“That’s what bartending at a real bar entails; getting to know who you’re serving. It’s more enjoyable that way, more realistic,” he said.

Gerst said the only disadvantage to bartending outside Campustown is that the location doesn’t draw the amount of business, especially during the week, that Campustown bars do.

“Monday through Wednesday, there isn’t much business going on because adults don’t go out as much as students do. That’s where working on campus helps,” he said.