Working at a Brew Pub
By Steve Gillman - July 13, 2013
Michael Kopczynski has had a number of bartending jobs, including
employment at two of Jimmy Buffetts Margaritaville restaurants
(Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Glendale, Arizona). In 2008
he moved to Cañon City, Colorado and began working as
a bartender in the recently-opened brew pub, McClellan's Grill
and Brewing Company. After moving away for a year he returned
to work there again in 2010, and was soon promoted to general
manager. I wanted to ask him about his experience, and specifically
about the differences between a traditional bar and a brew pub.
How many bars and restaurants
have you worked at over the years?
I would say about 6 or 7 altogether, I've always been a traveler
at heart. It has been hard to stay in one place when a job like
bartending makes it so easy to move and travel around the country.
Can you tell us what is different
about working at a brew pub rather than a regular bar? Is the
job essentially the same, are the customers different, and are
there other differences?
There is definitely a difference. Brew pubs are more for beer
enthusiasts. They love the idea of having a homemade brew and
not just your everyday "store brand". A lot of the
guests love going on tours and seeing the various aspects of
the beer making process. It's a different feeling in a brew pub,
a different atmosphere. Most regulars will ask all about the
beer making process, they know about hops and different flavors
that "store brand" drinkers don't know about.
As manager, did you have to learn
about or participate in the brewing process?
I didn't have to know or learn about it, however I sure wanted
too. I spent much of my off time back with the brewer as he taught
me things about brewing that I didn't know. I became his assistant
so to speak, cleaning the tanks and learning tank transfer methods
-- basically learning all I could about the beer we served, how
it was made, and also doing the small little things to keep the
In service businesses, due to
the tips they receive, front-line employees sometimes make more
than managers. Was that true at McClellan's, and if so, when
you were promoted to manager were you still able to work behind
the bar in order to boost your earnings?
Yes, it never fails that tipped employees will eventually
make out better than a manager at times, however I was able to
escape this by working a few nights a week as the Manager/Bartender.
This helped me make up the lost revenue I have always enjoyed
as a bartender.
Did you enjoy your work at McClellan's?
I enjoyed the brew pub a great deal, met some great people
there that I am still good friends with to this day. Learned
a lot about home brews and brewing beer; that type of experience
you can't get out of a book
What did you like about the job?
As always, I love bartending, getting behind a bar and slinging
drinks never really feels like working. Managing wasn't too bad
either. I got to basically make my own schedule, do bar orders
and keep things up to my own standards as far as what I think
a bar should be. It was a lot of fun.
Some readers will want to know
how to get a job like yours, so maybe you can offer some tips.
Sometimes managers are hired from outside the company based on
a good resume, for example, but you were promoted from within.
Do you think that is common, and is that something that a hard-working
bartender can realistically hope for in a small brew pub?
Small brew pubs would most likely hire someone from within,
bigger places will as well, but there you would have a lot more
competition. I truly believe that any bartender anywhere can
move up the ladder if they really wanted to. Key is patience;
all good things in time.