The Rules of Owning a Bar

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My home away from home. The white Explorer was my first car, “Melba Toast.” The teal Sunfire was the first car I bought with my own money, “Dawn.”

Sometimes, I call my dad, “Boss.” For most of my life, my parents owned a bar called Flaherty’s. The day after my 21st birthday, I started tending bar. I had gone shopping to buy some nice low-cut bar tops to wear when I was workin’ for tips. Dad was none-too-thrilled. I remember him asking me to wear a different shirt for my first shift. I acquiesced his request, but just that once.

Calling him “Daddy” was out of the question since every time it came out of my mouth, one of the customers would mock me in the whiniest littler girl voice, “Daaaaaaddddyyy.” It was obnoxious and I was over it. So instead of taking on the grown-up, “Dad,” I went with Boss. It worked. Such was the day I became a bartender.

Now, as I was finally 21, I would occasionally indulge in a few cocktails at this fine establishment… but in the beginning, I had all sorts of rules. (Drink for free at 21? Hell yes. Get hammered surrounded by scrutiny? Hell no.)

Some of these rules are interchangeable with your “home bar.” Your Cheers. Where everybody knows your name. Some of these rules are more protection for the young adult daughter of a bar owner.

Rule number one: Don’t get drunk in front of the adults who’ve known you for your entire life. Basically, don’t make an ass of yourself.  A shot and a beer joint, Flats (as we sometimes called it) was home to many regulars who had relationships with my parents. There was absolutely no way that I wanted to let them see drunk Chrissy in whatever behavior suited her for the evening. Besides, they may tell my parents. In fact, almost anything that I did was immediately reported back to my father or my aunt (and by tele-Nudd proxy, my mother). No misbehavior from this girl.

Rule number two: Don’t pull the grass from your own front lawn. IE: Don’t. Date. The Customers. If you break their heart, they’ll never come back. If they break your heart, they’ll never come back. If they’ve seen you naked… do you really want your dad serving them drinks? So I made it my business not to become interested in any of the few Flaherty’s regulars under 30.

Rule number three: Don’t bring your own sand to the beach. Never bring boyfriends or guys that you are interested in to the bar unless you’re really serious. In the home bar scenario, that’s like bringing them home to meet the parents. In my case, it WAS bringing them home to meet the parents. At Flaherty’s, gossip traveled faster than a Sarah Palin joke at a democratic convention. I liked to keep my dating life private. Sort of.

Of course, rules were made to be broken, and by the time Flaherty’s closed shortly after my 25th birthday, I had broken all of them. Many. Many. MANY. Times. You’ll see.

What rules do you set for yourself in your home bar? What are your favorite rules to break?

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