Meet The Bartenders

Tema Stauffer

Michael O'Toole
859 RANDOLPH AVENUE, ST. PAUL 651.224.7433

How many years he's been running this place: Too long.

Favorite drink to make for himself: The last one I pour every day.

Favorite drink to make for customers: A Bloody Mary. I give 'em a vodka tomato juice with all the fixings on the side. That way, as Oliver North would say, I maintain plausible deniability.

Is he the best bartender in town? The best bartender in town is always the one who's waiting on me right now.

Favorite joke: What's the difference between a bartender and a proctologist? A proctologist only has to deal with one asshole at a time.

Is there a list of people who have been thrown out of this bar? Yeah, it's right here. [He holds up the St. Paul phone book]

His version of respect: We don't call people "old farts" here. That's Mr. Fart to you.

Why he has so few female patrons: Women do come in here. They just don't come back.

How you can tell that he truly understands his customers: We used to have a comic about a guy at a job interview, and he was saying something like, "Experience? I have lots of experience. I've had 12 jobs in the last year!" We put it up on the wall and wrote [Spot Bar regular] Steve's name on it. The whole bar was laughing when he came in and saw it. He said, "That's nothing. When I woke up this morning, my wife had that taped to the fridge."

Why do his customers drink? To hide the pain.

The Spot Bar's motto: There are no strangers here, only assholes who haven't harassed us yet.

--Melissa Maerz


Ann Marie Scanlon, Darren Konsor, and Denis Scanlon

Konsor's signature drink: A Jäger shake. I can't tell you what's in it, but it tastes like root beer.

Denis on the Dubliner's history: During prohibition times, this place was a cop shop. Much later they had strippers in here, and all of the windows were blacked out. People used to say this was a rough bar before my dad took over in the '80s, but it wasn't a rough bar--it was a workingman's bar.

Ann Marie's favorite customer: Newcastle Dave is one of our regulars. We call him that because he's from Newcastle. He's a good, friendly guy. Or at least we think he's a good guy--with that accent, we can't understand a word he says.

Ann Marie's most confused customer: These Irish people came in once saying they were all excited to meet me because they just talked to my grandmother back in Ireland. I thought, that's funny, my grandmother's dead.

Konsor on why the live bands at the Dubliner don't like to play "Danny Boy": It's more of an American song than a real Irish song, and I think an Englishman wrote it. But there's an old story about "Danny Boy": A guy walks into the bar and says, "Paddy, will you play that song?" and Paddy says, "No, I won't ever play that song." The next guy comes over and says, "Paddy will you play that song for $400?" and Paddy says, "Let me just tune up first."

Does he speak from experience? None of the bartenders here are musicians. But when it's 4:00 in the morning and we've had too many pints of Guinness, we all think we're singers.

--Melissa Maerz


Anita Stinson

Favorite drink: Years ago, my favorite drink would have been anything I couldn't chew. But I haven't had a drink in 15 years. Sometimes I think I'd like to try one of those chocolate martinis--when I was drinking, there was no such thing as a chocolate martini or an apple martini or any of that, only gin--but I won't. Fifteen years is a long time, and I'm not going to ruin it now.

How has the bar changed in the 30 years she's been working there? Not much.

How has the music changed in the 30 years she's been working there? Not at all.

The only bad customer she remembers from those three decades: This man who had already drank too much came in, and as soon as he got inside, I told him to leave. He said, "Are you serious? I just got here!" and I said, "I can see that. I saw you fall out of the cab on the way in."

Why she's never had to physically unseat a customer: I think it has a lot to do with the age group I'm in. People look at me and say, "My mom's back there. If she tells me to get out of the bar, I'd better get out of the bar."

Favorite memory of working at the Uptown: The first night the Replacements played at the Uptown. I was under the impression that my sons [guitarist Bob Stinson and bassist Tommy] just played in a little band that practiced in the basement. But that night, it was so busy that they had to stick me in the back door to make sure no one else was coming in, and I just thought, "Oh my god. I had no idea." Daisies were Bobby's favorite flower, and he brought me a big bunch of them. That was the first time that I knew they'd made it.

Best advice she's ever given to a customer: When you're in love, you've got to have patience with people. It's the same way when you're a bartender.

--Melissa Maerz


Bob Miller

How he gets rid of bad customers: We had these drunks in the bar. They said they were going to Glenwood, and you know Lee's is on Glenwood. I told them I'd call them a cab. The cab driver parked the cab across the street, so they had to walk just as far to the cab as they probably could have walked to where they were going. It took 25 minutes for them to get into the cab because they couldn't get one guy's leg in. And when they finally got in, the cab driver asked where they were going. I said, "To Glenwood." And he said: [Miller makes an obscene gesture].

How he makes a good customer stay: I have this one lady come in here, she's a real good-looking blonde, and she and her husband just got married a little while ago. She always calls me "Handsome," so when they got married, I said, "What are you gonna call your husband now? You should call him 'History.'" Now he's got a T-shirt that says "History" that he wears into the bar.

How he knows his sense of humor has rubbed off on his customers: I wouldn't serve this one regular because he'd had too much to drink. So he went down to another bar. It didn't really work because they kept trying to get him to leave. The bartender said, "I told you to go." So he disappears into the bathroom for a while, takes a leak, and comes back. The bartender says, "I thought I told you to go!" And he says, "I just went."

Biggest bar brawl he's ever been in: I used to work at this place called the Speakeasy. One night there was a guy who had two muscle arms in the air and was throwing other guys into the walls. So I grabbed a pool cue and my buddy George grabbed a blackjack. I broke the pool cue across his eyes. He never batted an eyelash. My buddy hit him six times with the blackjack and it didn't hurt him--it just made him mad. So I grabbed a pistol from behind the bar and my buddy grabbed a baseball bat and somebody called the cops while there were four other arms reaching into the bar pulling him out onto the street. And he was one of our better customers.

--Melissa Maerz

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