Meet the Bartender: Phillip Werner

MICHAEL DONAHUE/The Commercial Appeal
Phillip Werner, bartender at Local on the Square, enjoys the personal interaction with customers.

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MICHAEL DONAHUE/The Commercial Appeal Phillip Werner, bartender at Local on the Square, enjoys the personal interaction with customers.

Age: 26

Title: Bartender at Local on the Square

Hometown: Memphis

How did you get into bartending? I started out at Huey’s on Winchester as a food runner. That was my first restaurant job ever. This was about seven years ago, maybe. Within a couple of months they promoted me to server. After two years, I believe, as a server, they promoted me as a bartender ’cause they were short-handed.

What makes a good bartender? The best bartender is someone who is very personable but who also has a sense of urgency about him. Meaning they can talk to a customer, but they can also say, “Well, hang on one second. I need to take care of this customer.” And not have a problem with it. ’Cause I think that’s one of the biggest things I see in some bartenders, where they focus too much on one customer and then kind of let everybody else fall by the wayside. My friends know if they come in they might be the worst treated of everybody because I’ve got to take care of everybody else first.

What’s the best part of being a bartender? You get to interact with customers on a regular basis. Especially in Midtown. I feel like it’s a real tight-knit community. Bartending in Midtown, you go out to places all over and you see other people that you recognize and they recognize you. They’re like, “Hey, you’re the bartender that served us. Hey, thanks. You’re awesome.” It kind of makes you feel you’re a part of something bigger. And it’s nice to have that kind of rewarding job.

What’s popular at your bar right now? Specialty cocktails.

What’s not popular at your bar right now? Maybe martinis. We don’t get too many of those anymore. Pretty much vodka and gin martinis. We rarely get asked for those.

What’s your favorite drink (mixed drink, wine or beer)? Beer. I don’t really have a favorite. My go-to is Bud Light, but I like trying new beers, the seasonals and stuff like that. Darker beers, I’m more of a fan of lately.

What are some of your other interests? I’m in school right now, finishing up engineering technology at the University of Memphis. Other interests are watching sports, playing sports. Anything dealing with a lake.

Local on the Square is at 2126 Madison; 901-725-1845

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