Welcome to Lifers, a feature in which Eater interviews the men and women who have worked in the restaurant and bar industry for the better part of their lives. Here they share their stories.
Dwight Long can be found behind the bar of My Brother's Bar on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. He has been there since he took the position in 1998. After only two trainings, he was thrown into action and had to man the bar with help from the waitresses and his favorites - the regulars. Long became part of the family at My Brother's Bar and it is that family that kept him wanting to work there. The time for change has come for Long: soon, he will change venues and take his bartending tools just a block away, at Colt & Gray. Regulars can visit him there after November 8. Eater sat down with him to talk about his bartending history and industry stories.
What is it about My Brother's Bar that has kept you there for so many years? The family environment. Everyone is great to each other. Everyone is friendly to work with and the owners are amazing. The employees all take care of each other and actually enjoy being with each other.
Does that help retain most employees? Everyone has been here a long time. We have a couple of waitresses that are pushing 20 years. The janitor is pushing 40 years. Actually a guy that works here on Friday nights, Reza, when the revolution happened in Iran he came here. This was his first job in America and he is now an engineer but he still works the door every Friday. It has been almost 35 years.
How did you get started bartending at My Brother's Bar? I had an old friend who lived in the neighborhood from high school and he had his graduation party here at My Brother's Bar in 1993. Years after that I came down here to meet him for something and we were having lunch here and I was looking for a job. He waved Jim the owner over and said "hey, my friend needs a job."
Did you have any bartending experience? No. I had maybe two trainings shifts before they had me work a shift on my own. I had no idea what I was doing. They put me in a Saturday day shift by myself and I had two waitresses that I worked with that I just loved who were helping me a ton. They taught me the most and the customers helped out a lot. They were very patient with me.
Was bartending the plan for your career? I didn't really have a plan. I was going to college and didn't have a major and I was trying to figure out what to do so I took some time off. The bartending job just kind of worked out. I met my wife who was bartending at the time at Shakespeare's Pub & Billiards. She ended up getting a day job and when we decided to have kids bartending was easy to stick with. We didn't have to factor in day care for the kids and I could spend more time with them on the weekends and during the day, which is fantastic.
Any stories that come to mind about the customers you have served over the years? On the corner of the bar sit the many regulars that come here all the time. Everyday there are so many stories that I hear. It would be hard for me to pick out a favorite because everyday I look forward to the next one.
What is your favorite drink you serve? I do like the classic cocktails like a Sazerac, but here at My Brother's Bar we are set up for beer and whiskey. I love going through whiskey with people. I love talking about bourbon, scotch, and picking out a good one for the moment.
What is your favorite item on the menu? I started eating burgers when I started working here and I'm not stopping eating the burgers from here anytime soon. My first burger here was a double cheeseburger and I think my last one will be a double cheeseburger.
So you decided to make a career change and you are moving to Colt & Gray how did that happen? They actually didn't approach me- I approached them. They had mentioned at one point if I ever wanted to come down there that would be cool. So I thought it might be a good move for me. I am interested in making craft cocktails and learning more about them. I talked to Brian Smith and the next day he called me up and that's how that worked out. They have the same family environment as My Brother's Bar so I'm happy about that.
When does the move happen? My official last day at My Brother's Bar is November 8. I am training for Colt & Gray starting that week and by November 14, I think I will be working full time for them.
How did My Brother's Bar take the news? I have one very angry waitress, Susie, who loves me and is very sad and mad at me. There have been lots of hugs, but everyone thinks it's a good move.
— By Kelsey Colt
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