Clayton Rollison, chef/owner of Lucky Rooster Kitchen + Bar on Hilton Head Island, popped up in my national news feed again this week, this time in an NBC News report titled “Buh-Bye, Hipster: Why the Friendly Bartender Is Making a Comeback.”
The story explores a growing “Spare me, please” sensibility among the very eaters and drinkers who made knowing every precious aspect of their meals and cocktails a thing in the first place. Now, the trendsetters are looking at the old-timey and aloof barkeeps that popped up to serve these apothecarial tinctures and saying “Mmmm. We’d rather you ask us how we are ... like they did in the olden days, like on ‘Cheers.’”
More customer service, less making us feel like we don’t deserve your special and amazing elixir.
Rollison, who was featured this summer in Vice in a story about craft cocktails (and who is called “Rollins” in this NBC News story ... or was, assuming someone will eventually point this out to them today), attributes the craft bartender attitude to the natural superiority that arises in people when they are doing something new and different from the rest of their industry.
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“Learning this new craft,” he said to NBC, “you don’t know how to come across humbly. That insecurity breeds into ‘I’m going to show you.’”
So many people are doing the “craft cocktail” thing now, though, he said, that it’s an expected standard, which means it’s time for bartenders to evolve and revisit the basics, such as developing a rapport with and serving the customer.
At the end of the story he points out something that I think is important for full-time Hilton Head residents to note: This isn’t about summer money for some food and beverage workers. This is their profession, and they deserve the same respect that comes to those who care about how they do their jobs.
“A lot of people work in the hospitality industry because they want to serve guests,” Rollison told NBC. “Don’t assume because someone is bartending or waiting tables that this is just a job placeholder. With the people who work for me, this is their chosen career path and they make good money and they love doing it.”