Football Season: The Bartender’s Perspective | Drink | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Football Season: The Bartender’s Perspective

Please friends, keep your shoes on and don’t fall asleep. I’ll keep the waters coming.

Sunday in the bar business is a strange day. Saturday nights we finish up around 2:30 a.m., then clean up and punch out within an hour. Some might go catch a late-night bite. Even if we head straight home, it’s usually not lights-out until after 4 a.m. So, the Sunday football shift is usually fueled by coffee, Red Bull, and a lot of antics to keep the momentum going. Here’s how barkeeps handle the challenge.  

11 a.m. — Shift begins. Set up work stations. Cut fruit for the day. Get all bottled beer iced and ready to go. Make sure all work stations are clean and stocked with ice. Plenty of appetizers plates, silverware, and napkins ready to go. Chug coffee. Shift meeting. 

11:30 a.m. — Doors open. First few groups of people walk in. Table of six. Table of five. Table of two. Service tickets begin rolling in. Three spicy Bloody Marys, two vodka OJs, and three shots. Yikes. Guess it’s party time. 

12:45 p.m. — Kickoff is usually at 1:07 p.m. We are running out of bar stools and every table is full. Servers are running around like maniacs trying to get everyone settled in with their first round of drinks before kickoff. Managers are bringing stools up from storage to accommodate a few big groups. We have a lot of regulars on Sundays and the service station is getting overtaken by people saying hello, offering coffee or snacks to staff, hugs and stories from last night’s drunken adventures. Chaos. 

1 p.m. — Game begins. People start cheering once the Steelers hit the field. Booing begins for the other team. At this point, we get to take a breath. Only a few stragglers left to be served and everyone else is settled in. 

First touchdown — High-fives and yelling. Shots ordered. I have no idea what time it is. 

First opposing touchdown — More yelling and clearly “Ben needs to retire,” “The refs are a joke,” and “Why did they not call interference?” I think it’s almost halftime. Chug more coffee. 

Halftime — Complete rush to the bar for more drinks, closing out tabs or ordering food. Besides the half hour before game time, this part is the most hectic. Every customer needs something at halftime and you have 20 minutes to figure it out. 

Second half — Basically the same as first half, except some people have fallen asleep on the bar.

End of game — Steelers win. Within hour, bar is a ghost town. Only about 20 people left, finishing up food or waiting for rides.

Hour after game — The “After Game Zombies” arrive wanting cheese fries and six waters. Please friends, keep your shoes on and don’t fall asleep. I’ll keep the waters coming. 

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