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|Here are excerpts from some of the articles written about Tony Sylvester's bartending schools, job training and employment placement services from 1977 to the present.
Shaken economy stirs up interest in
Saturday, June 6, 2009
By JOHN COLEMAN / The Dallas Morning News
Don Allen's biggest worries used to be instructing
pilots how to perform a
barrel roll and not bumping his head in the cramped flight simulator. Soon
his job could depend on remembering whether to salt the rim of a margarita
Laid off after a 40-year career as a pilot and flight
instructor, Allen turned to one of his longstanding dreams: bartending.
Bartending "is something I have had in the back of my mind for a while;
it's something I might have done for fun one day," Allen said.
Rather than a fun hobby to pick up, it might serve as a financial life
preserver for Allen, who was to graduate Friday. He is one of many
recession casualties who turned to bartending school, looking for another
income option after being laid off – but a certificate in bartending may
not be a quick fix.
Monthly applications to the local branch of the national ABC Bartending
School have increased 15 percent to 30 percent year over year since
December, according to Mark Stephenson, director of the school in Addison.
Certified drink mixers are on the rise, but area bar owners and recent
bartender school grads agree that with limited jobs available, experience
and a great personality – rather than a certificate – are the golden
ABC Bartending School grad Necole Elias said her lack of experience was a
hindrance in the job hunt.
"Being a new bartender, it was tough. Especially in this tough economy,"
she said. Owners want to hire applicants "who have experience with
Elias said she applied to five bars and received only two calls back
because of the hole on her résumé.
Bartending school is just another bullet point on a résumé to Abby Starr,
general manager of Idle Rich Pub.
"We mostly hire based on personality and experience," Starr said.
"Bartending school won't hurt, but it certainly won't make someone,
Cory Wauson, general manager of Ozona Grill and Bar, said business is up
and he is hiring about one server per week, but no bartenders. He said
he's not a "big bartender school person" – applicants have to earn the
Bartenders have to work their way up the chain like
everyone else. It is a privileged position. You can teach the bartenders
recipes, but experience is what is really valuable to me," Wauson said.
The appeal of bartending is the ease of picking it up, short training time
and the respectable income bartenders can earn, Allen said.
Bartenders can expect a dismal base salary close to minimum wage,
Stephenson said, but with tips, a bartender can earn $20 to $30 an hour.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in Dallas-Fort Worth,
full-time bartenders make an average of $19,640 in wages annually, based
on May 2008 figures.
All industries have been hit hard by the recession, Stephenson said, but
the food service industry still needs workers.
"People are losing their jobs and looking for options to turn to,"
Stephenson said. "Happy, sad, rich or poor, people are going to eat and
drink, and they need people to provide that service for them, and it's a
good place for people to look for jobs."
Despite many restaurants downsizing, applications are still rolling in.
Wauson said his Ozona Grill is experiencing a spike in
applications it hasn't seen in 10 years. Many of the applicants are
returning to their roots, he said.
"We are seeing a lot of business professionals returning to what they did
in their youth to earn money after being laid off," he said.
It's the same story for bartending school applications.
A larger, more diverse and educated group of applicants than usual is
entering bartending school these days, said Stephenson.
"Usually this time of year, we see a lot fresh high school grads, but we
are really starting to see the older crowd come in, many in their 30s, 40s
and 50s," Stephenson said.
Phil Seger, 60, is a former senior project manager and 19-year industry
veteran for a major telecom company. He recently purchased some ranchland
in Fannin County to retire on. He was laid off five years before he
planned to retire.
"I saw firsthand how rough the job market was," Seger said. "I tried to
find a job for a year and a half and must have sent out several hundred
résumés; no luck, because I was overqualified for most jobs I applied
After 18 months of frustrating results on the job hunt, a friend
recommended Seger give bartending school a try.
"A friend of mine gave me the idea, and I am just loving every minute of
it," he said. "I'm not sure I would ever want to go back to the corporate
Kacy Oden, director of membership relations for People Report, a Dallas
restaurant research and consulting firm, said age wouldn't play a role in
keeping older bartender applicants out of the industry.
"They definitely stand a chance in this industry," Oden said. "There are a
lot of bars out there for the baby boomer generation, and they like to see
someone like them behind the bar."
Students from 18 to 70 are attending the weeklong bartending program, and
Stephenson said more of them have bachelor's and master's degrees than
"We are seeing a lot of educated professionals come through the doors.
Some people have jobs for 20 or 30 years when they get laid off and come
to us," he said.
Some bartending students don't wait until they get laid off to make a
James Cooper still has his job in the airline industry. With times still
difficult, workers have to be prepared, he said.
"There still could be another big layoff coming. You have to be ready; you
can't wait until the end to do something," Cooper said.
Passing the Bar
not unusual for someone to wander into ABC Bartending School and order a
cocktail. The faux bar on busy Kennedy Boulevard looks authentic. Notice
the Johnnie Walker rubber mats and Babe Ruth photograph on the
The libations poured by the students are fake, though,
a combination of food dye, water and a jellylike substance. Tiny bobbing
balls mimic fruit garnishes.
This classroom bar at 4601 W. Kennedy Blvd. has
offered instruction in what director Dan Bygden terms a "recession
proof profession." "Good or bad times," he says leaning on one
of two bars, "people don't like drinking alone."
ABC's Bygden says a certificate shows a potential
employer that a person is serious about doing a good job.
Janice D. Froelich - The Tamp Tribune
Excerpts from the Chicago Tribune
Impress your guests, or find
career, behind the bar
By Jennifer Olvera
When it comes to
throwing a bash, it’s hard to deny that libations play an integral
role. In addition to being the festivity’s fuel, thoughtful beverage
selection also can be a tasty way to show guests you care. The
problem is, many people don’t know a mai tai from a Singapore
sling---and cocktails more complex than, say, a rum-and-Coke can
No excuses. The
holidays are just around the corner, and it’s time to get with the
program. Believe it or not, bartending courses can teach you to
sport a superb salty dog, hone your creativity and become a better
professional bartenders and housewives looking to throw parties are
interested in learning to tend bar,” said Myong Park, a Chicago
resident and former bartender who instructs at ABC Bartending
Schools on Belmont Avenue. “It’s a life skill. It teaches you how to
treat people well and make them feel good.”
In his free time,
Park hosts parties for his nearest and dearest at home. “Being a
good bartender means your guests don’t want to sit in front of the
TV,” he said. “And it means you can be the life of the party. Who
doesn’t want that?”
teach everything from etiquette--women still get served first--to
the difference between a highball and rocks glass. “Bartending
classes go beyond the basics,” said Kelly Curtis, director of ABC.
“You do learn how to make and serve drinks the right way, but you
also learn what to--and not to-- talk about. A bartender, just like
any good host, is there to please his guests.”
While most people
don’t associate tending bar with keeping the peace (that’s the
bouncer’s job), there is
to be said for a bartender who helps visitors get along.
SCHOOLS: Offers 40-hour courses that meet on five consecutive
days as well as weekend sessions, which last three weeks. Beyond
learning how to create traditional drinks,
bartenders-in-training begin fashioning beverages on the fly:
1034 W Belmont Ave, 312-664-0074. The school also has a location
in MT. Prospect (1699 Wall St.; 847-228-0700
Instructor Myong Park says that
learning to help people feel good is an important skill.
How to be your own bartender
BY PAIGE WISER
|Bars are magical places, full of smoke,
fried foods, happy people with lowered standards ...and almost always
alcohol. But what happens when you entertain at home? Not only are you
expected to have a fully stocked bar, but those baby pearl onions had
better be at the ready, and you may hear reports that the drapes are on
fire. Panicked, we sought guidance on the art of being your own
Q. Should I watch "Cocktail"?
A. "The Tom Cruise movie"? Never hurts," muses Jack McKim,
the director of ABC Bartending Schools (847-228-0700). The air-borne,
spinning techniques are called "flair bartending" -still very popular in
places like Las Vegas and Disney World. But Pace warn that there's a
distinction that Cruise missed. "The trick to flair bartending is making
a drink while performing the tricks," he says. "Not so in
Q. What are the biggest mistakes amateurs
A. Taking shortcuts. A cocktail recipe may look convoluted, but
every step has a purpose. Chilling a glass, blending the ingredients for
the proper amount of time, twisting the lemon into a martini rather than
dropping it -a little extra time translates into taste.
Q. What are some of the intangibles about
bartending -the stuff you can only learn through experience?
A. It's all about the customers (or, in our case, guests). "They
can have quirks on exactly how they prefer to have the drink made," says
McKim. " 'Shaken, not stirred' comes to mind."
|Q. What are the latest fabulous
A. New and trendy is so... last summer. this year, the
classics are back. "The Cosmopolitan, Kamikaze, Sex on the Beach,
Martinis, Long Island Ice Tea, Woo Woo," Pace suggests. "I bartend at
night in Vancouver [British Columbia], and the most popular drink was a
Long Island Ice Tea." Just make sure the traditional drinks are prepared
properly, say McKim. "Martinis, Manhattans, Rob Roys, Old Fashioned,
Whiskey Sours. They have been made since Prohibition, and still are
Q. How can a party
host stock a home bar without going bankrupt?
A. The basic liquors should do the job: vodka, gin, rum, tequila,
scotch and whiskey. A popular brand name of each will run you about
$10-$20 each. "You should also have things like dry and sweet vermouth,
triple-sec, lime juice and grenadine for mixing cocktails," Pace says. If
you're inviting more than 30 people, consider professional help, McKim
suggests. His school can help stock the bar and juggle drink orders
while you mingle.
Q. What about barware -is it necessary to
invest in grappa glasses?
A. You should be alright with rock glasses, highball glasses,
martini glasses and margarita glasses. Or you could simplify things with
high-end plastic glasses. "A cordial glass can be used for grappa,"
The adventures of on bleary-eyed Texan at the
Harvard of bartending schools.
By Adam Pitluk
||Jeff Hoferer moseyed on down to Fort
Lauderdale's ABC Bartending School from Dallas, Texas, to learn how to
make a mean cocktail
A drunk, horny guy hits a drunk, horny town
-- to learn how to make people drunk and horny.
American Airlines flight 2042 from Dallas,
Texas, has just arrived at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport.
Pale, pasty South westerners file out like a flock of happy sheep, wide-eyed
Ever since he graduated with a marketing and
international-business degree from Kansas State University in 1999 -- the
24-year-old Hoferer has worked as a bar and concert promoter in the
Dallas/Fort Worth area.
A few weeks back, though, he had an
epiphany. Staring down the barrel of a shot glass he had just drained of
Jägermeister, Hoferer saw his future: He'd move to Los Angeles and make it
big as an actor-model, but not before jetting to South Florida to earn his
license to kill... brain cells, that is.
Yes, Jeff Hoferer is here to attend Fort
Lauderdale's ABC Bartending School, the Harvard of mixology. Sure,
there are other bartending schools, but this is the big one.
He does pick up some rules of thumb to
take into his first day of school: The more drinks you serve, the more tips
you earn; a guy on a date is a bartender's best friend; and no real man ever
orders a Tom Collins in public.
ABC has been schooling the supply side since
before Hoferer learned to read. The largest chain of bar schools in the
country, ABC boasts 13 schools nationwide (and five more on the way). It's a
multimillion-dollar venture, granting 7000 degrees a year in cities coast to
coast -- and Broward County is where it all began.
When Tony Sylvester opened his first
bartending school in Broward County in 1977 on the corner of State Road 7 and
Coconut Creek Parkway, he knew there was no guarantee. "It was a
gamble," Sylvester says from behind his desk, His desk sits front and
center of the establishment, flanked by framed thank-you notes from various
bars around the country. "But just like the American Dream, a little hard
work still pays off in this country," he adds.
This Bill Gates with a twist of lemon
grew up in an orphanage. He has no more than a ninth-grade education, but
despite his accomplishments he keeps his ego mostly in check: He doesn't want
to forget his Passaic, New Jersey, roots. He keeps his reminders close at
hand: His GED, crusty and faded, dated December 19, 1975, stands on a filing
cabinet behind his desk, while a picture of him in the orphanage graces his
desk at home. He still works ten hours a day, seven days a week.
But larger than life is a framed poster of
the world's greatest celebrity bartender -- none other than Brian Flanagan (as
played by Tom Cruise) leaning over a bar, baby blues glistening in the pink
neon light of the sign that hangs above him: Cocktail.
So if your looking to learn how to bartend
just call 1-888-COCKTAIL.
belly up to the bar!
|They've been joined by a variety of others seeking new
opportunities amid the economic downturn - a trend that's seen enrollment boom at bartending schools in the Bay Area.
"This industry is pretty recession-proof," said Chris Grant, director of ABC Bartending School in San
Leandro. "When times are good, people drink. When times are bad, people
All local bartending schools say they've been deluged with former dot-commers and technology professionals seeking
careers in a slightly less volatile field.
ABC Bartending School director Kim Chiacchiaretti and owner Tony Sylvester with his newest bartending school at 5036 Katella Avenue in Los Alamitos. ABC has
schools nationwide and now has its first location in California. Founder Tony Sylvester is a third generation bartender, who opened his first bartending school and started teaching his craft in 1977. He plans to open three or four more schools in Los Angeles County soon. The 40-hour program can be done in
1, 2 or 3 weeks. To reach the school call 1-888-Cocktail (1-888-262-5824.)
ABC Bartending Schools
Become a Master of
By Lauren Halperin
Today’s classroom of
tomorrow’s bartenders includes Tony Genco, 22, a recent South Florida
implant from New Jersey, and Craig Silverberg and Michael Barrows, both 31
and both looking for career switches. Perla Bodden, 21, wants a job in an
area nightclub and knew ABC Bartending Schools was the best start to her
Since 1977, Tony Sylvester has been the key ingredient
of the largest bartending schools in the country, matching the right faces
with the right places. At ABC, students are taught to walk, talk and think
like a bartender. Third generation in the hospitality industry, Sylvester
has set up opportunities for his ABC Bartending School graduates across
the country once they graduate from what has been called “the Harvard of
ABC now boasts 15 schools nationwide, including seven
schools in Florida along with plans for further expansion before 2003.
This multi-million dollar venture grants over 7,000 bartending degrees
each year in cities across the country. Not bad for one man’s simple
entrepreneurial belief: “Have a dream and work hard for it.”
“Many battles have been fought and won by soldiers
nourished on beer.”
--- Frederick the Great ---
At first glance, the classroom looks like any other
tavern or bar. Instead of desks, students sit at the bar, on barstools,
next to sipping straws, strainers, and selections of garnishes. Behind the
instructor are three shelves, which span the width of the bar, loaded with
a kaleidoscope of liquor bottles. The bottles are different sizes, colors,
and contain different types of alcohol, with recognizable brands like
Bacardi, Captain Morgan’s, Crème de Cacao, Bailey’s, Absolut, and
Peppermint Schnapps. The other side of the ‘desk’ is a full working
bar, stocked with different size glasses, liquors, and ice.
co-workers sign up for bartending school after losing high-tech jobs.
Two Tuesdays after he lost his
job, James Gordon sat at a bar along Mills Avenue. Gordon and the dozen others
lined up at the bar at Orlando's ABC Bartending School.
A few minutes later, Noel Shaw
entered the room. Shaw, the school's teacher and director graded their tests.
Gordon did well: another 100% score. He was mastering the drinks taught in the
week long course, remembering little things, such as what crème de cassis
tastes like "currants" which drinks get a sugared rim "side
Their classroom boasts all the
comforts of a hometown tavern: neon signs, a radio tuned to soft rock and an
ice maker. In fact, you wouldn't know it was a real bar till you took your
first sip: All the drinks here are made with colored water.
Other students in a recent
session in the class included a laid-off dot-com work, a former marketing executive,
and a car sales-woman and an air-traffic controller both seeking part-time
Those who were laid off in early
April made about $8 to $16 an hour plus overtime and bonuses. Bartenders in the
Orlando area can make $12 to $40 an hour with tips.
Others who signed up were at
first skeptical about bartending. "It seemed like one of those surfer
jobs", said Christy LeDuc, 33, a former process analyst.
But the idea soon spread among
the clannish clean-room crew. Suddenly, ABC Bartending School was a hit with
newly out-of-work microchip makers.
Many of the new mixologists
aren't thinking of bartending as a new career, but a temporary gig while they
go to school. "Look at it this way: If we go into a recession, people are
still going to drink," said Bonnie Oster, ABC Bartending Schools'
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students are shown Flair Bartending
flipping) at no additional cost.