Buddies Behind the Bar

Guest bartender Finley West and Recovery Room owner Chris DiMattia.

One bar has taken its personal touch to another level. The Recovery Room is located just outside the bustling bar district of downtown Charleston, S.C. The fact that bars in the area usually have guaranteed traffic doesn't stop owner Chris Dimattia from running promotions, but it does influence his thought process when he's designing them. He hatched one promotion in particular to attract locals normally put off by the high tourist head count downtown.

"There are many of us here in town, 25 to 45 years old, who don't want to go downtown and deal with that scene," Dimattia says. "So I'm trying to create a cool joint where people feel comfortable enough to be themselves, have a good time and don't have to worry about cover charges."

Dimattia came up with the Guest Bartender promotion, which now runs several times a month, but with a point of difference from typical guest bartender events at other venues.

"I had some friends ask if they could bartend one night just for fun," he says. "After a few people asked, I figured, 'Why not?' Some other bars in town also have guest bartenders, but they only use professionals. I thought it would be more fun to invite people who don't bartend professionally. They come for an hour or two, play with the bottles and shakers, and everyone loves it."

Given the potential for poorly made drinks and harm to the customer's sipping experience, Dimattia plays it safe by keeping it simple. Each guest bartender selects a beer brand and a shot special for the night, and The Recovery Room offers those at reduced prices for any friends the guest bartender convinces to turn out.

"We've had everything from standard Bud Light specials to one guy who would only serve house tequila warm," Dimattia says. "To each their own — that is the rule."

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