Brenda is a bartender who works at Simone’s Bar in Pilsen. She is currently attending college and hopes to become a nurse. Brenda is a punk rocker who has always loved piercings, tattoos, and going out to drink with her friends who share the same love of style. She started bartending when she was 22 years old and mentioned that her dad was also a bartender. Brenda is now 24 and has learned a lot about the bar and restaurant business. Brenda has worked at Simone’s Bar for about two years and hopes to stay working here while she is in school. Interviewing Brenda was a no brainer because she is able to give an insight of the business that we would not understand.
Jackie: Why did you choose to work at Simone’s Bar rather than any other bar?
Brenda: I grew up in the Pilsen community and I wanted to stay here. I felt as though a lot of people tend to go to the north side to get a job or live and I wanted to be different. I live around the corner as well and so it was very convenient for me.
Jackie: What is the most rewarding aspect of being a bartender?
Brenda: A lot of people think it’s a really easy job but I had to learn a menu in a week and also have a great memory. I feel like its rewarding because I get to talk to people from my community and we are able to bond. Also, I get to meet new people all of the time and tell them about Pilsen.
Jackie: When would you suggest people go to Simone’s during the week?
Brenda: This is actually a really good question because people assume that it is Friday or Saturday…..but it’s actually Sunday! This is when the crowd is least rowdy and also the day people come to chill instead of get drunk.
Jackie: Simone’s is located in Pilsen where gentrification is currently occurring, how do you feel this is affecting the community in terms of entertainment?
Brenda: This is a difficult question to answer because it has affected a lot of people that I know both negatively and positively. I know people who have lived their entire lives in Pilsen and are no longer able to afford living here. I also know people who have opened up businesses lately, one of which is an art studio, and the influx of higher earning people who can afford to buy their art has made it possible for them to keep it open. Overall, I guess it’s been positive for businesses.
Jackie: What about Simone’s is different from other bars you have gone to in Chicago?
Brenda: I feel as though Simone’s is different because of the community who comes out to enjoy drinks. I have gone to other bars where no one knows each other but Simone’s is always popping with old friends as well as new friends.
Jackie: In the past two years that you have worked at Simone’s, how has it changed?
Brenda: I can see a great difference because a lot more people come into the bar. Simone’s has also added food and drinks to the menu which everyone has enjoyed. Overall it has been really positive and I’m stoked to have been a part of it’s growth.
Jackie: What aspect of bartending as a career is often overlooked by the public?
Brenda: Bartending is a skill that really needs a lot of practice and effort to be good at. If you take forever to make drinks, you won’t get tips. It’s also a form of entertainment in a way because we like to make cool drinks sometimes just for the fuck of it. We also like to make it entertaining on our end so we’ll do little tricks like using fire and flipping bottles.
Jackie: What bars in Chicago do you like to go to besides Simone’s?
Brenda: I really enjoy going to Beauty Bar because it’s also a rad place to listen to oldies. They have events every day so it’s cool to just go there and stop by whenever.
Jackie: What advice do you have for people in Chicago who want to venture out from their regular bars?
Brenda: Going to a new bar is always cool but you should do your research before you go. Make sure the drinks aren’t over priced and that the place has good reviews. You don’t want to get stuck in a boring bar with an overpriced drink!
Jackie: What advice do you have for UIC students who are beginning to go to bars?
Brenda: Eat before you drink, definitely. You don’t want to be that lightweight that brings the whole crowd down. Be nice when you tip the bartender because we have to deal with assholes all night. Also, please don’t leave your drinks unattended! Just chill and know your limit is pretty much my advice.