Title: Bartender at Villa Castrioti restaurant.
Hometown: Rochester, N.Y.
How did you get into bartending? I moved here at 16 years old. ... I started here as a waiter and moved my way up to bartender. All the waiters here make their own drinks. Every waiter is their own bartender.
What makes a good bartender? Knowing what your customer wants.
What’s the best part of being a bartender? I like the hours. I’m a night person. I’ve never been a morning person in my life. The money is good. Sometimes it’s almost like being a psychiatrist to people in ways because they come to you with their problems. It’s kind of like you’re a cheaper way out. They go to the psychiatrist and are getting put on Xanax or whatever, and they come here and have a whiskey or a cocktail and they feel great.
What’s popular at your bar right now? We have a regular customer base. Most of my customers that come here, they’ve been coming here for 20 years. So, they’re not into these like Mai Tai, Hurricanes. I can make drinks like that, fancy drinks. They’re really basically into your basic scotch on the rocks, scotch and water, whiskey and Coke, dry martinis.
What’s your favorite drink? Vodka. Ketel One. I usually like it plain, straight up.
What’s something important you learned from a fellow bartender? Gani Mardeda. He was the icon of this restaurant, head bartender for so long. He taught me basically everything I know. Just the way he is with customers. He kind of taught me to make the customer feel comfortable. You don’t make it feel like it’s a doctor’s appointment. You make them feel at home, make them laugh, feel good, and they’re gonna drink.
What are some of your other interests? I love to play sports. I love baseball. I grew up playing baseball as a kid. I’m a disc jockey besides doing this. Private parties, receptions, weddings, bar mitzvahs. And I’m the resident deejay at Rumba Room on Sundays.
Villa Castrioti is at 714 N. Germantown Parkway, 901-753-3894.
email@example.com; Michael Donahue 901-529-2797