Normally, I sing Station 4's praises to the high heavens. It's not a place I frequent all that often, but now and again everyone could benefit from the catharsis of a night spent jumping awkwardly in place to Ke$ha with a sloshing plastic cup of nondescript vodka substance. But on Saturday night we hit the Round-Up (I tip my stetson, fellas) and then Station 4 where a bartender twice spat unprovoked hateful shit at me before twice turning his back, walking away and refusing to serve me.
My offense? I merely inquired about a drink that he found too unsophisticated for his lofty skill-set. (Didn't even order it; just asked a question.)
Now don't get me wrong. If offered the choice, I probably wouldn't eschew a glass of Macallan 50 for a shot of Apple Pucker or Hot Damn. But I wasn't at the S4 to swill fine spirits on an oxblood red leather sofa while pursuing the Wall Street Journal in my smoking jacket. The nasty attitude is an embarrassment to the profession that this particular bartender claimed to take so seriously. And, in general, it's not cool to treat others -- paying customers, or otherwise -- with senseless derision.
But apparently Dallas has a bit of a reputation for such. I've talked to most of the city's best barmen and women -- those who take their work as seriously as any chef and who've earned my highest respect -- and many of them have told me, unprompted, that the "I refuse to serve your pedestrian request" attitude is not only a serious problem here, but a phenomenon that shames the entire industry.
On the other side of the table are guys like Matt Tobin and Josh Yingling who will meet you on the couches at Goodfriend with a hug and a can of Highlife. You'll recall that, among the two of them, these guys own two wildly beloved bars and have plans to open a craft beer store with specialty imports. They know beer. But at the end of the day, these guys have said, "We're big on 'Do you like it? Does it make you smile when you drink it? Then cool, drink it!' We think it's cool to try new things and good to branch out, but if you end up and Bud's what you like, drink it."
So on Saturday night, I walked 15 steps to another bar and was immediately acknowledged by three other S4 bartenders who were friendly, fun and attentive. And since the best way to deal with a troll is to ignore it, let's talk folks we love. Here are some hardcore service winners who got pretty damned decent tips from me this weekend (and who deserved more):
Misty at Vickery Park Aaron at Spiral Diner Joe E. at The Round-Up Saloon
Have you had some good service, bad service lately? Praise your favs in the comments.