Monday, February 7, 2011

ABC Bartending School in Las Vegas: "What a joke!"

This is Bud Meyers when he last worked at the Riviera Hotel and Casino. If you were 21 years old and sat down at a casino bar in Las Vegas, and this man approached you and asked, "How are you doing today? May I get you something to drink?" - Would you get sick to your stomach and barf all over the bar? Would you laugh in his face and say, "Get away from me old man, I want a much younger bartender to serve me!"

I made the news again today in an article in my local newspaper, the Las Vegas Sun.

As usual, the idiotic reader comments that people made are too numerous and too ignorant to address. I would tell most of them: "Sometimes it's better to remain silent and be thought a fool, rather than to speak and remove all doubt."

But I will respond to one person who was named in this story.

In this article an idiot named Greg Abate, who supposedly runs Las Vegas's oldest and largest bartending school (ABC Bartending) says, "The days of getting jobs through the buddy system are gone. This is new Vegas, which is pool parties and nightclubs. You think a casino wants to hire someone who’s 50 years old serving drinks to 21-year-olds?"

UPDATED: Let's talk about Greg and this school for a moment: In the photo below of the ABC Bartending School (click to enlarge) it shows bar towels on the bar, which is a clear violation of the Clark County health code, and they should be sited for this (bar mops are supposed to be in defined buckets with a solution of water and bleach). Also, I saw no hand sink, liquid soap, and disposable paper towels behind the bar, which is also a health code violation.

Greg Abate claims he has over "40 years of experience in the hospitality industry, which includes managing a restaurant for 4 years, managing a night club for 13 years, and bartending for 3 years in Ft. Lauderdale Beach." So I'm guessing he's at least 5 years older than me - - - an OLD MAN! And he's teaching 21-year-olds how to be "cool" and "hip" bartenders? Give me a frigging break!

And he's bartended for only 3 years? Is this supposed to be Mister Abate's "considerable knowledge of the industry that is passed on to their students to keep their nationwide reputation of training the most efficient bartenders in the country?" This is too funny!

And what type of knowledge did I pass on to the young barbacks who workerd under me over the years Mister Abate? Was my knowledge deemed worthless by you because I didn't charge tuition, but your school does?

And I'd like to know what type of "job placement" Danyelle Bowman (Admissions and Job Placement Director at the ABC Bartending School, and who bartended for only 2 years) does in the Las Vegas casinos - who are mostly union houses and whose bartenders belong to the Bartender's Local 165 in Las Vegas. This is total BS!

Their web site:
Bartenders Beverage and Dispensers Union Local 165, Las Vegas

One who aspires to bartender becomes a barback first, and then take classes at UNLV, then takes a union bartender's exam, then after working for one full year as a barback (apprentice bartender) they wait for any possible bartender opening before getting promoted to a bartender (usually starting out working part-time at the bottom of the extra board). No one needs to spend $300 for this crappy school, and they CAN NOT LEGALLY BYPASS the union process and hire a non-union member for a bartender's job in a union house casino. Unless Mister Abate would like to rescind his comment about not using networks and contacts ("juice") in the "New Vegas". He's a joke!

This guy is an @ss-wipe. He couldn't get a REAL bartender's job because he's an OLD has-been himself (and was probably a lousy bartender too), working at this cheesy school for probably half of what I could earn as a casino bartender (and he most likely doesn't have the good health and pension benefits that union bartenders have either).

And I'd also like to point out to him that I didn't apply for pool bars or nightclubs for the reason he stated. I applied for casino, service, restaurant, sports, showroom, and lounge bars. So why did he even make that comparison?

Hey jerk! It's almost common knowledge that most of these nightclubs aren't even run by the casinos, but are completely separate venues, managed by outside companies. So where the hell have YOU been these last few years mister know-it-all? Are YOU supposed to be "hip"?

And how many 50-year-olds (who usually have more money, do more discretionary spending, and gamble more in the casinos) necessarily wants to converse with a 21-year-old behind the bar who has an iPod glued to his ear while he's ignoring me to text-message his little girlfriend?

Unless of course the bartender is blonde with huge boobs, in which case she would most likely just ignore me too. But I think I'd prefer an "old man" behind the bar that will serve me a quick and cold Heineken, rather than wait for some dumb bimbo to figure out how to make the previous customer a gin-and-tonic.

The days of getting jobs through the buddy system are NOT gone. If someone has "juice", there's always an advantage to getting a job over others. My juice retired and now much younger people in management run these places today.

A bartending school in Las Vegas doesn't get you a job in Las Vegas, "juice" in the local bars does...or after a one year union apprenticeship in a casino - and after taking the required courses at UNLV. Many bartending schools like his are a scam (like many nursing schools who promise job placement). Why the author of this article even quoted him as some kind of "expert" on the subject is beyond me.

And I DO have other skills as well, besides JUST mixing drinks - such as playing the guitar, computer repair, website design (his website is cheap and cheesy), and writing. And even as an "old man" I'm probably much more handsome than he is too (even being "pale with bags under my eyes").

And I've seen a lot of "fugly" 21-year-old cocktail waitresses too. I know a lot of other older and friendlier and more efficient cocktail servers that I think I would much rather have serve me in a busy casino. If I just wanted to see some "T and A", I could go to a local strip club.

Greg Abate is a frigging joke, him and his school. He would criticize me, someone he knows nothing about, just to promote his own business (I'd love to see HIS books!). I've been behind the bar for 20 years in this town serving 21-year-olds, how many years has he?

When I first moved to Vegas, there were plenty of 50-year-old bartenders and cocktail servers...and there still are, nothing has changed. People still get these union jobs, stay there for years getting union seniority, and bid on the better shifts. It's a life-long career, unless you find yourself between jobs at my age in this economy.

Age discrimination isn't just happening in Las Vegas or in the casino industry, it's happening all over the country. Read other newspapers and education yourself Mister Abate, instead on pontificating like a moronic fool.

I realize that everybody has a right to be ignorant, but some people (like Greg Abate) abuse that privilege. His crappy web site (with a picture of Tom Cruise in "Cocktail") was registered in March of 1998, ten years after I started working behind a bar in Vegas.

Is this what 21-year-olds think is cool these days? Tom Cruise as a bartender? What a joke!

*** If he had been nicer to me, I might have offered to redesign his whole web site for free (and I don't mean like this FREE blog I'm currently using either).

At the bottom of each article I post, there is a little envelope that you can click on to e-mail me.


  1. I recently read your article in the Las Vegas Sun and watched the same thing happen for the last 2+ years at a similar (to the Riv) strip casino and it was horrible to see people who had worked there all their lives discarded for cheaper labor. Anyway, I'm not sure if you have any back-of-house experience but my husband works downtown (non-casino restaurant) and is looking for a cook if interested plz reply with your emails address and I'll send the details. Best of Luck!

  2. Bud, I know of a restaurant that might hire you. They recently hired a former 99er as a server. Email me for the details.

  3. Hello Bud,

    I caught the article in the Sun yesterday, and followed the link to read your entire blog. I am a US citizen living overseas, but I have a vacation home in Las Vegas - I come back 2 or 3 times per year.

    What I see happening in Vegas just makes me sick. Not to brag, but I'm a Finance executive with a six-figure income. When I come to Vegas, I spend up. I would MUCH prefer a 50-something service professional (bartender, waiter, whatever) who knows what he/she is doing to serve me rather than some clueless bimbette.

    I am really thankful that I'm now also a citizen of a country that has a subtantial safety net for the unemployed. We have free medical care, social housing, and long-term unemployment benefits.

    I wish I could offer some tangible help, but my only advice is to look after your mental/emotional health, hang tough, and things will eventually get better. Never give up ... I was close to your situation once, and what nearly did me in was the depression.

    Best of luck to you.


  4. Thank you so much for this blog. I can't thank you enough. You really touched me and put into words, so many of the things I'm feeling right now.

    I'm younger, but it's tough. I'm 35 and have been unemployed the past 3 years. I have a masters degree, 3 years of teaching experience at the university level, experience with non profits, media consulting, and well... was always considered an over achiever of sorts.

    Then the economy happened!

    I lost my teaching job due to budget cuts, my consulting clients due to bankruptcies and just not being able to afford my services...

    I found myself being labeled either overqualified, or as having the wrong type of experience. I went from feeling on top of the world to nothing to live for.


    I went to New Paradigm's blog and I couldn't find a contact link - but I just did. It's named "Contact Me".

  6. Bud, your contact page won't send. You can find my email address on Facebook now.

    New Paradigm

  7. Contact me - "For some reason, sometimes it takes a 2nd attempt with the security image."

    I used it and it works. BLOGSPOT (or the website for the FORM) has issues and it's the best I can do for now with this FREE blog. I can't install my own PHP scripts to this site.

    Sometimes you have a refresh the page and then you have to re-enter the new security code. It's just fussy I guess.

  8. Bud, you are totally right. I think about your plight often and I really pray your luck turns around. You deserve better than this.

  9. Well said! And great comments!!!

  10. I am so glad I read this post. Bud, you just saved me $300+ dollars and a whole lot of heartache, because I was really considering this school until I read all of what you had to say in this post. I don't have "juice" or connections in vegas, but I am hoping to somehow get a barback position and work my way up like you said. Nobody else mentioned needing to take classes at UNLV and going through the Union, interesting how all of these companies are so money hungry and leave out every important detail, I think, intentionally.

    1. No problem Meriel. Businesses like this prey on people for profit. If you applied for a casino bartender job at a nightclub in this town, and put this school on your resume, the people in HR might laugh at you. But if you had the right looks, some previous experience, were young, and knew the manager, you would have a much better chance of getting the job. In nightclubs, they chew you up and spit you out. Nightclubs are often trendy, and don't offer the same long-term job security that a regular established casino company can offer. And a newly opened local bar is more dependent on the current economy (a few have closed since the recession). A large casino company can better weather the storm (and with seniority, you have less fear of layoffs). And when you get old in a union house, you can't be so easily fired because the boss doesn't think you are young enough or good-looking anymore for the Vegas "image". See this link to another post I did about age discrimination in this industry (some ABC won't tell you either).