Hit me with your best shot

By Brandon Bridges

Working on campus as a bartender might give the illusion of pure fun and excitement, but as many bartenders can attest, there is a lot more to it than meets the eye.

Kimberley Edgerton, senior in Commerce, is an employee at Murphy’s Bar and Pub, 604 E. Green St.

Edgerton works both the day and night shifts, depending on scheduling, with a different list of duties and responsibilities for each time of day.

“During the day, I have to come in and write the specials on the board, cut up fruit for drinks, memorize drink specials and, on the whole, make sure everything is prepared for the evening crowds, which can be really busy,” Edgerton said.

Because Murphy’s serves food as well as drinks, at times Edgerton must also take orders and manage serving.

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“Murphy’s gets a diverse crowd of people. Food brings in professors and staff, and drinks bring in a wide assortment of people, from graduate students to the average freshman,” Edgerton said.

Mike Pullano, sophomore in applied life sciences, is an employee at Clybourne’s, 706 S. Sixth St., Champaign. Pullano has the same general duties that Edgerton describes because Clybourne’s and most other campus bars operate mostly in the evening.

“There are the standard list of tasks you have to do while you work after all the preliminary set up is done,” Pullano said. “Cleaning glasses, managing the upkeep of the stock and inventory and, of course, making drinks all goes on during a shift.”

Pullano said the biggest task occurs at the end of the night when it comes to getting people to leave.

“People want to get in their orders for last call but then they don’t want to leave when it’s time to go,” Pullano said. “It’s generally the doorman’s job to remove people, but as bartenders sometime you have to just lay down the law. I tell them: ‘Sorry, it’s Champaign law that at 2 a.m. everyone has to leave.’ Most people are pretty understanding as long as you are cool about it.”

Jessica Barki, junior in ACES and an employee at Kam’s, 618 E. Daniel St., Champaign, said the biggest challenge was learning all the protocol that goes along with working at a bar.

“There is some type of training session before you begin working, but most of the time people have to learn as they work and become more experienced because there is simply too much to learn in a few training sessions,” Barki said.

Bartenders are taught the basics, she said, but beyond that they must learn by trial and error.

“The nice thing about being a bartender is that you are always on your feet, always engaged in your surroundings and the people,” Barki said. “There is always something fun and interesting going on, which makes work a really fun place to go instead of being a drag.”

Pullano said his favorite part of bartending was that he could be social and see his friends while he worked.

“I like being able to hang out with friends and meet new people while I work. It makes it seem less like a job and more like just having a good time,” he said.

Edgerton said she thought practical experience as a bartender without the strict restrictions of most city bars was an added bonus in deciding to bartend.

“If I worked in Chicago, or some other metropolitan area, I would have to wait until I was 21 to start working, and I’d have to go through extensive training and probably even have a bartending license,” Edgerton said. “The nice part about working on campus is learning the ins and outs of the business without being in a high-pressure environment.”

Edgerton said that being a bartender doesn’t require special talent.

“You don’t need to have a lot of experience or knowledge to be successful as a campus bartender, but instead just an open mind and a good attitude.”