Photo by Rob ONeil
Here in Key West we have several "Best Of" Surveys. It could be best gym, or best Cuban coffee, best bar, best pizza, best hat store, best bartender, so on and so forth. One thing I haven't seen however is, using the British term, Best Publican, or in American English, Best Bar Owner and or, General Manager.
The fact is, with over 360 liquor licenses and who knows how many beer and wine licenses, there's a hell of a lot of bars on this mile-and-a-half wide (no, it's it's not two miles) by four mile long island! So you can imagine that in a town that consumes far more alcohol per capita than any other city in the U.S. There are a LOT of incredibly fabulous Publicans!
For me, however, there is only one choice as to who the best Publican in town is and it's a testament to the ultra-high standards the town has achieved, because as I say there are a hell of a lot of five-star Publicans in this town!
Commonly known as Dave Senior, whom I'm partnered with at The Cork and Stogie, Dave is #1.
In the operation of a bar there is one single requirement that is vital: The atmosphere.
Nothing, absolutely nothing is more important than this.
Over the decades I've seen many bars fail because the owner, or GM took things outwardly, way to seriously. First and foremost the bar must be a fun, congenial place to be. Of those with the serious atmosphere, they failed. However, Dave Senior gets this. The Cork and Stogie is FUN!
If someone walks into The Cork and Stogie, weather he knows them or not, the very first thing Dave Senior does is give them a big smile and a welcome, friendly greeting. It might be someone who works there, it might be a regular patron, it may be a tourist coming for the first time, it doesn't matter who it is. Dave Senior has a smile and a greeting for everyone. Not only that, most owners or managers stay behind the scenes. That's fine, it's a system that works for many., especially the ones who are dower. Dave, however, kicks it up a notch. He mingles and socializes with the guests. Consequently, everyone knows Dave.
Photo by John Frenzi
The customer needs to feel welcome and comfortable. Believe it or not, I've walked into bars where the owner, or GM actually looked at patrons with a face of stone. No greeting, no smile, nothing. Who wants that atmosphere? If any owner, manager, or employee is in this state of mind, which can happen with anyone, they really need to check out for the day and try it again tomorrow.
I say it can happen with anyone, but that's not entirely true because it never happens with Dave Senior!
Dave always has a greeting, smile, and a great conversation, mostly peppered with humor and laughter for every person who walks through the door.
The Cork and Stogie is ten years old and the other night someone asked Dave if he ever actually fired anyone. He pondered for a second saying “Hummm lets see? Well we had one.... “ until someone hollered out his son's name, “Dave Junior!!!!” The entire bar ROARED with laughter.
Dave Senior also has an innate knowledge of what's happening in the business world of Key West. If you want to know anything about businesses opening, or closing, talk to Dave. If he knows the inside story on why someplace closed, no, Dave would never go into that. However, Dave Senior has his finger on the business pulse of what happens on and off Duval.
In addition, if there are any rough edges that needs to be smoothed out, Dave puts on his diplomatic hat and puts everything back in order with minimal fuss.
On the ridiculous side, Dave has dressed up in the most absurd outfits to promote events. He also shaved his head for charity!
I've known Dave well for over eight years and I have never heard someone say anything negative about him.
As I said, The Cork and Stogie has been in existence since 2009. Owners Dave and Leslie were kind enough to take me on as their partner four years ago, on April 1st (my choice, no kidding!) 2015 and I've had a blast! Thank you!
At the end of this month, The Cork and Stogie will be closing for renovations. As of this writing we will be re-opening three months later on August 1st, with more room and a full kitchen, plus a complete redesign,
So, swing by The Cork and Stogie, 1218 Duval St. Key West, and say hello to the absolute best Owner/GM in town, Dave Bevins Senior, before the end of the month!
Congratulations Dave Senior, you set the standard!
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