Day to Days

Sara Macho

A night in the life of Glory Days bartenders

Early childhood education major Samantha Sitter fills another cup with beer during her shift Friday night at Glory Days in Kent. KATIE ROUPE | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

People puking on themselves. Trash-can sledding down the stairs. Out-of-control 21st birthdays. Vomit. Being flashed by older women. Fists punched through mirrors. More vomit. Crying drunk girls. Screaming drunk girls. Even more vomit.

They’ve witnessed it all. The good, the bad and the just plain nasty.

They’re the Friday night bartenders and barbacks at Glory Days Water Street Tavern, nestled comfortably on the bar crawl strip in downtown Kent.

Each weekend this brave crew serves the students of Kent State who are ready to get their drink on. Friday, Sept. 22 was no exception, as a couple hundred students and area locals celebrated the completion of yet another strenuous work week.

As midnight rolled around, tipsy students stared eagerly at bartenders Ross Ferrise, a senior justice studies major, and Samantha Sitter, a senior early childhood education major, as the two rushed around to fill drink orders. And, boy, were there a lot of orders to fill.

“This is the kind of job where you have to be able to move fast and multitask,” Ferrise said. “You also have to make drinks quickly and know all the prices.”

Not too bad of a gig

The life of a bartender revolves around one thing: alcohol and lots of it. But between making and selling drinks, Ferrise and Sitter never seem to forget to have some fun while working.

“This is the best job I’ve ever had,” Ferrise said smiling. “The hours work with my class schedule. You make good money and people are really friendly. It’s like being at a 24/7 party.”

And according to Sitter and Ferrise, the 24/7 partiers tip very well.

“People are usually pretty generous with their tips, sometimes giving me 20 percent,” Sitter said. “It does depend on the person, but overall, Kent State students are great tippers.”

Downstairs bartender Danielle Fabris, a junior marketing major, also gave a shout-out to Kent State students.

According to Glory Days owner Mike Beder, in addition to splitting the tips among both bartenders, the door man and the barback, the bartenders make slightly more than the set server wage of $2.16 per hour. At times the bartenders can walk out with more than $100 in tips.

The rules of the game

Though owning a bar does have many benefits, both financially and socially, Beder said there are numerous responsibilities.

“Above all, I have to watch out for the level of rowdiness,” Beder said. “I have to keep an eye on people who may be harming others or themselves.”

And obviously, interacting with people who have been drinking is another responsibility.

“Sometimes people lose all sense of reasoning,” Ferrise said. “One time this guy argued with me about his addition on a credit card receipt.”

Through bartending, the employees of Glory Days have also learned some things about people, such as the best way to relate, listen and understand where they’re coming from. The bartenders also quickly learn how to recognize certain types of people.

There are the people who are obnoxious and demanding, but also the patrons who are patient and understanding, Ferrise said.

“You also pick up on the fresh 21-year-old drinkers, the close talkers, the loud people and the social drinkers,” he added. “You’re moving so fast. You just kind of pick up on it.”

With all the drinking going on around them, the bartenders’ desire to also drink varies between each person.

Sitter said she is not affected by all the alcohol around her, commenting how she drinks less now after watching so many others before her drink.

Is it that time already?

Don’t be deceived by the glowing red clock display near the restrooms. Almost every bar sets the clock 15 minutes faster than actual time in order to get buzzin’ customers moving. Bartenders hurry along slow-moving customers by halting drink production, putting the lights on and turning the music off.

After he gets the OK from Beder, Ferrise loudly shouts “Last Call!” and the night of drunken debauchery nears an end. By Ohio law, everyone must be out of the bar by 2:30 a.m.

Once Glory Days is empty, staff members help pick up used dishware, wipe down tables, sanitize the taps, restock, “batch out” credit cards, sort through the tip bucket and take out the trash.

The Friday barback, Ryan Telzrow, 29, senior justice studies major, does the majority of the clean-up duty but does get plenty of help from Sitter and Ferrise. As barback, Telzrow is responsible for “keeping the bartenders moving.” He constantly restocks alcohol, cleans dishes and maintains the cleanliness of Glory Days.

Another night down

The staff of Glory Days looks around the now empty bar and discusses the night’s events with one another. There seems to be a real camaraderie between all the employees. Fabris comes up the stairs, at last done with her duties from downstairs.

Fabris, who has been bartending at Glory Days since April, said her favorite thing about bartending is meeting so many kinds of people.

“You kind of get a regular crowd. You see people and eventually get to know their names,” she said. “You just meet a great mix of people. This bar caters to all. Everybody stops in here at least once during their night.”

Contact features reporter Sara Macho at [email protected].