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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Who's The Boss, Anyway?

Back in the mid-nighties I played in a duo with my friend Rob Hardwicke called "Partners In Crime". Partners In Crime played in both Key Largo and in the Kendall section of Miami. We were a small bar type set up. In Key Largo we played Friday nights at a place which was then named "Kenny's". We'd play and pack the place solid with a crowd that was laughing and backslapping their night away. This was a local crowd. Salt of the earth people who meant what they said and said what they mean... well, most of the time. Never saw a fight or anything like that, but folks would start to enter there after work... about 4pm and we'd start at 6 and go to 11. It was a great place to play and the owners, Del and Domingo, a father and son combo, were just superb guys all around.

We also played at a place in Kendall, just off of Sunset and 107th named "Kelly's", I guess we had something for bars that started with the letter "K" HA HA!

Anyway, Kelly's was a small bar as well and usually had between 4 and 10 women in there on a Saturday night. This was a bar which classified itself as a "Gay Friendly" bar. There was always a few men with their wives or girlfriends there as well. The woman who owned it was great! She was a riot when she was there, which wasn't too often regretfully. I had a friend, Brenda, who was one of the regulars there and she ended up getting us the gig there.

We came in with our friend Bruce Turkel playing harmonica and we stuffed the place to the gills. Instead of 4 to 10 people in there on a Saturday evening, we had about 60. Standing room only and two deep at the bar. Everyone was ordering food as well. They added additional folks to help out it was so busy.

This went on for about three months and one day a friend overheard the bartender say "I'm getting tired of hearing these guys music every Saturday. I wish it could be like before, when it was not so damn busy." The following week we were told that they didn't want music anymore. I felt like Claude Raines in Casablanca when the Nazi General told him to close Rick's Cafe "But everyone is having such a good time!" the words bubbled out of my lips.

I waited three weeks before stopping back to touch base. It was a Saturday night about 9 and there were three people there. The bartender was there and when I enquired about if they wanted music back, she only said "No, I don't think so".

Later I bumped into the owner. "You know? We did so well when you guys played there!" So I asked her about coming back and she hearkened back to the bartender, saying she was tired of our music and the crowd.

At which point, I said to her "Hey, she's not the boss, she's the bartender. I'm not the boss, I'm the entertainment. You know what else? Not even you are the boss, and you're the owner!"

She looked a bit bewildered at me, as I pretty much mentioned all of the people involved in the place.

I smiled and said to her "Flo, not you, me, or your bartender is the boss. The boss in your bar, or any bar, is the cash register and the more it's singing it's song, the happier it, and everyone else will be! When the cash register is chinging, it doesn't matter what any employee's personal taste in music is, or if they're tired of hearing the same group, week after week or day after day. Micro-management doesn't work here, especially if it's guided by an employee's personal taste. What only matters is the song the cash register is singing"

Always remember: The cash register is the boss of every bar.

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