Name of Bartender: Andy Wells
Name of Bar: Ducktown Tavern
Location: Atlantic City, N.J.
Square Footage: 1,500
Open Date: Oct. 1, 2011
Andy is the head bartender at Atlantic City’s Ducktown Tavern, he has 21 years of bartending and beverage-management experience, is an expert in customer care and is a writer who has published staff-training manuals and journals as well as magazine articles for South Jersey’s Boardwalk Journal. He owns the Atlantic City Bartender Training Center, is a certified TIPs trainer and is head of the board and the creator of the The Atlantic City Bartenders’ Ball, an event that raises money to support the “HERO” campaign, a federally registered, 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to preventing drunken-driving tragedies by promoting the use of safe and sober designated drivers. Andy has won “Top Bartender” and “Best Drink Menus” awards given by the Atlantic City Weekly, and he’s a five-time nominee for the “Top 40 Under 40” entrepreneur in Atlantic County. Phew!
The reason I picked Andy for the Bartender of the Year Award wasn’t because of any of the above. I picked him because of the following quote by him that I found on the pressofatlanticcity.com website:
“I care about my customers, just like so many other bartenders do. I don’t want to get rich all at once. If they get mad at me and don’t tip me if I cut them off, but they are safe for the night, I am OK with that.” Congratulations, Andy! You’re one hell of a bartender.
I’m giving Andy some space here to tell you his story:
“When I started my bartending school I had to make sure that I teach how to be a responsible server. I am a TIPs trainer and try to tell real stories so that they can relate to. Unfortunately, anytime our great law makers try to force us to do something it gets watered down with the programs they put in place for us to learn, which are taught by someone who might have never served a drink. I’m sure they believe what they are teaching and honestly would want us to listen but, if you know bartenders we tend to listen with a deaf ear. I felt that if one of our peers or a ‘normal’ person tried to help, then more of ‘us’ might listen. So I decided to try to be that person.
“When I was a kid it wasn’t easy. Both of my parents were alcoholics and unfortunately they drove us while they were intoxicated. I can remember as if it were yesterday. My mother had been drinking and was too proud to call a cab; needless to say that she wound up hitting a big dirt mound because she didn’t see the stop sign that she ran. I wound up under the dashboard and promised myself that I would never be in that spot again [and that I would] try to help prevent it happening to others. Most people who grew up similarly to me know this story or may have much more horrifying stories to tell.
“When I thought of the Atlantic City’s bartender’s ball, I wanted to show the community that the people in the service industry care about our patrons. The HERO campaign was a perfect fit.
“I have noticed from time to time that when you tell someone that I am a bartender they continue to ask what else I do. I will be the first to admit that yes being a bartender isn’t rocket science or I’m not busting my back at a 9-to-5 job, but I do love what I do and I take it seriously. I have tried the real world of work and I don’t know if I would be able to do anything so repetitious. But bartending gives me freedom to be on stage and to have fun while chasing the proverbial buck. So after all the good times behind the bar, I thought it was time for me to put up or shut up and to finally make good of that promise I had made to myself under that dashboard.” —Andy Wells