Across the Bar: Holidays Can Be Both Lucrative and Test Bartenders’ Patience

by | Nov 2, 2017 | Across The Bar | 0 comments

Football and bartending have one thing in common: no days off.

Across the Bar: Holidays Can Be Both Lucrative and Test Bartenders' Patience 1Bars and restaurants are not only open on holidays, but some of these days they are ringing their best sales of the year. On others, it could be crickets. If you apply to work in this industry you have to accept that at one point or another, you’re going to be scheduled to work on a holiday.

Now that the Christmas music is on, and holiday décor is popping up, it’s time for bartenders to start considering which holidays to volunteer for, and which ones to avoid at all costs.

Summer Nights

Every holiday has its pros and cons, except for the summer holidays, like Fourth of July and Labor Day. Those are almost always the slowest holidays to work at a bar in Worcester. “It’s basically like sitting through detention,” according to Greg, a bartender at multiple bars in the city including Breen’s Café and Galway Bay Irish Pub. “Labor Day and Fourth of July are, by far, the two worst holidays to work.”

Anyone in Worcester wants to get out of Worcester and head straight to Cape Cod, or any other beach right away on Fridays in the summer. People sticking around find a friend with a pool, or head to Lake Chaubunagungamaug. On a holiday in the summer the only difference is the obligatory cookout appearance. No one wants to be inside.

“[Fourth of July] Might be the worst holiday to bartend. It’s a cookout day. If it isn’t raining, people want to be outside, and you are inside, missing fireworks, not having fun or making money,” agreed Katie M. of Quinn’s Irish Pub.

If you are scheduled for one of these summer holidays, start practicing your rain dance because that’s your only hope.

Personally, I dread Halloween weekend the most. People tend to think that having mouse ears or face paint on allows them to be their most rude and obnoxious version of themselves. Let’s just clear this up right now: you’re either a Power Ranger or a jerk; a Disney Princess or an imbecile. You don’t get to be both. Everyone is on an adult pixie stick high and the costumes get sloppier as the night goes on.

When Irish Eyes Go Drinking

Across the Bar: Holidays Can Be Both Lucrative and Test Bartenders' Patience 2

The most dreaded holiday in Worcester county is a toss-up between Parade Day and the actual holiday, St. Patrick’s Day.

“Everyone starts drinking before the bars are even open, and generally are bordering blackout drunk before they get to any establishment,” said Alicia L., bartender and server at Parkway Diner. After many years working behind the bar on Park Avenue for both the parade and St. Patrick’s Day, she has more than a handful of horror stories to tell.

Alicia said, “They forget what they want to order, and basic motor skills are hardly functioning at this point so forget a ‘please’ and ‘thank you!’”

It’s true. The people of Worcester celebrate this two-part holiday unlike any other single day of the year. You can make it a lucrative shift, without question, but it calls for a superior level of patience, and twice as much cleaning up as any other shift.

“So busy it will take an entire 15 minutes to get from one table to the kitchen. And cleaning glasses with curdled Bailey’s is the worst part of the night,” said Katie M.

These days do have their perks.

“Part of you wants to throw all the drunks out, but the other part of you wants to grab the popcorn and watch the show,” Greg said with a laugh.

It’s true. Even the worst holidays behind the bar make for interesting stories to tell later.

Holiday Cheer

Christmas (day or night shift) is surprisingly a favorite among bartenders. Naturally, the majority of people would prefer to be at home with family and friends, but if you have to work a holiday, Christmas is a good one.

For many customers, they either don’t celebrate Christmas, or don’t have a family to celebrate with. They genuinely appreciate your business being open, and having a bartender who may be taking time away from their own family to give them a place to go. For those reasons, people are not only generous, but they are the nicest to be around.

“Despite whatever is going on in their life, people tend to put that aside and treat you like the human being you are, and not a peasant like many people treat us other nights,” Alicia said.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are popular mornings and nights for many bars in Worcester. For some it is the hair of the dog after a rough Thanksgiving Eve, or it’s that liquid courage to get them through the day with family. Others have made it a tradition among friends to get together before or after the family obligations are done. There is money to be made serving holiday cheer on these days.

Of course, Thanksgiving Eve cannot be overlooked on this list. It is understood that this night is going to get out of hand. It is going to try every ounce of patience any bartender has. As Katie puts it, “you know you are going to make incredible money, but also know you’ll be dealing with the drunkest of the drunk.”

Thanksgiving Eve is the best example of working hard for the money. At the end of the night you are exhausted and you just want silence. And probably a pizza and a beer. But by 8:00am the next day, many of us have found our way to the other side of the bar and are ready to kick off the actual holiday with a smile on our face, and a large coffee with a shot of Bailey’s.

Holiday Brunch

Springtime holidays such as Easter and Mother’s Day are great shifts to work if your bar or restaurant offers brunch. These holidays have become increasingly popular to let someone else prepare the meal, especially for families without small children. The mornings start of a bit chaotic, but your day generally tapers off early in the afternoon making it a short day with a good tip-out. For the most part, everyone is on their best behavior, and you spend the day popping champagne bottles for mimosas and shaking up countless rounds of Bloody Mary mix.

If you find you have your choice of holiday shifts at your bar, choose wisely. For every busy holiday, there is another painfully slow one. At one point or another you’re going to have to experience them all for yourself.

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