Walk up to the bar at either RE:Public or The Men's Club, and you'll find Hannah Gardner slinging drinks with an infectious smile. She says she's seen her share of "drunk people wildin' out," but overall, working at two of the hottest nightspots in Charlotte has allowed her to meet a diverse mix of people. "It definitely changes your attitude, and you open up to different cultures," she says. "I'm not as naive as I used to be."
Creative Loafing: How did you get into bartending?
Hannah Gardner: When I first came to Charlotte, I worked at Verizon Wireless for a year or two, then I started meeting people in the bar industry. I didn't really like my job, and it got boring after a while. One of my friends got me into HOM — that's where I started cocktailing, and when I turned 21, they gave me a chance at bartending. I got to train with some of the best bartenders in Charlotte. I got off to a lucky start.
How did you end up at RE:Public and The Men's Club?
With Charlotte, it's kind of hard to find good owners and people who actually care about their employees. I actually got into RE:Public because I used to work for Nick Spain and Rick Gur over at Kiss Lounge. Nick opened up RE:Public this year and that's how I got on over there. I've worked for him at Kiss for about two years, and they are both awesome. When I first found out he was opening up RE:Public, I was like, "Oh yea, that's a definite. I know I'll be taken care of and the energy is really great there." As far as The Men's Club, one of my friends got me to go over there. It's steady money — great money. Their food's amazing It's a good group of people there as well. I like to go places where it's good energy and people look out for one another.
What is it like working at The Men's Club as a non-dancer? Do you get treated differently?
No, everybody is in there for the same purpose, to make money. You really don't get treated any differently; you have to respect everybody when you go in there anyway. I like being behind the bar, I'm comfortable there. It's my safety zone. I'm not a big fan of being a waitress. I like to avoid being in the craziness, but I'll serve everybody all day long.
What do you do when you come across a rude patron?
I've been bartending long enough that if you make me mad, I'll let you know. If there's something I can do to make their experience a little better, then I'll definitely do that. But if they just have some attitude for no reason, I don't pay it any attention and just brush it off.