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Bartender Profiles: Wil Reid

10 Jun 2017

written by Croma

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Bartender Profiles: Wil Reid

Text & Photos by Tim Borland

Mod Mobilian‘s newest series will focus on getting up close and downright personal with a new local established bartender in each article. There is no better bar to begin with than perennial early hours hot spot Hayley’s Bar. Anyone who has frequented the pink monstrosity has likely met the well experienced (and often underappreciated) Dauphin St. bartender Wil Reid.

IMG_5659Hayley’s Bar at 278 Dauphin Street

Reid began bartending school at a mere 18 years old. Unfortunately due to his young looks none would initially hire the would-be drink slinger. At age 22 Reid began working at a legitimate bar on a strip of downtown in West Palm Beach, Fla.The locale was no accident or vacation choice – Reid grew up in West Palm Beach. The mixologist also has roots in Hackensack, New Jersey where he lived as a young child before moving down South.

In Mobile for over a decade now, Reid was drawn to the Azalea City because his father, brother, and aunt all live nearby throughout southern Alabama and Mississippi. 21 years after learning the basics of the trade, Reid imparts countless stories and wisdom gained from serving people who are essentially difficult to deal with in their inebriated states. Patience is a big part of the customer service experience for those in the service industry.

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Q&A with Wil Reid:

  • What is it like working at an independent business like Hayley’s Bar?

“Oh its amazing man, they give us the freedom to promote our shifts, and what we wanna do in there. It gives us the freedom and ability to promote ourselves and its pretty awesome in that way,” Reid expresses.

  • What are some of the ways you are able to promote yourself?

“There are different things, like the sidewalk board. Customers can see what drink specials we are running, like if its $3 shots or $2 cheap beers, we can put that on the sandwich board in front of the place. We also have crawfish, that’s a thing we always do that a previous bartender started. The karaoke is another thing that was basically promoted by a bartender. There are a number of different things that they will do, like Tuesday night they will do free pool for people, or $1 off for the people who work in the service industry. We have the ability to promote that through facebook, bar posters, and word of mouth through friends,” Reid describes.

IMG_5676An example of the many music posters adorning the walls of Hayley’s

  • Is it rewarding that you are actually able to contribute some of your own ideas that you come up with to your business?

“That’s exactly what they want from us, for us to be create positive things for people to want to come in,” Reid says.

  • What are some of the challenges you face as a bartender?

“When people are just rude to you. Sometimes people will come in a little bit drunk. Say they give you a $10 bill to buy a beer, and you bring them back the change and their like ‘no man I gave you a twenty.’ And then they will argue with you and say  ‘your stealing from me,’ and you’ll be like ‘no…no.’  I don’t know, I guess when people are rude or chastising they are  just not happy in life. It’s a bar – they are coming in to drink to either rejoice something or drown something. A lot of times when people are down they are not the nicest in the world,” Reid reveals.

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  • What kind of clientele do you see during your shifts at Hayley’s?

“Basically Mobile is one of those deals where if it’s a weeknight shift or a certain bar, its mostly all regulars that you deal with all the time. We really don’t have a huge tourist industry in Mobile. So basically you get people who like certain types of bars and they tend to go there over and over again. I’d say 5 percent of customers are from out of town and you will never see again, but the rest are people who are moderately to consistently there,” Reid shares.

  • Why Hayley’s versus working at another area bar?

“Hayley’s just matches how I am, man. From the first time I started working there, I liked the rock and roll and punk rock memoriabilia on the walls. The place has that vibe of almost anything goes, lets just have fun and party. I can be myself and that’s how I want it, and I think that mindset helps people with their work. I love the job, I love the establishment, I love the whole thing,” Reid insists.

_MG_8657A typical crowd of Hayley’s locals and regulars

  • What is one of the funniest bar stories you have from bartending?

“I saw a gentleman come in during Mardi Gras, he didn’t seem like he was too drunk yet. He sat down and ordered a beer and a Jager shot. A second or two later, he looked around kinda like a cat that goes up on its hackles when its not feeling well. Then he pulled his white button up out of his pants and he threw up down his shirt. Its disgusting, but he sat there and continued to sip his beer and talk to people. A young lady sat down about three seats down from him at the bar. He ordered another beer and shot, and then scooted over next to her. He started talking to the lady, and winded up leaving with her ten minutes later. I don’t understand how that guy picked a girl up after vomiting all over himself, but he still did it. He could teach some people some lessons. If I could only hear what he said to her,” Reid recalls.

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  • So how do you approach customers as a server?

“Honestly, you just take care of people and make sure they are happy. Part of working in the service industry is giving someone a service. A lot of people have their own schticks about it like, ‘oh I’m salty.’ Its all just how your mood is and what people want from you. Sometimes people are so miserable when they come in they are just not nice and they will be salty towards you. I try to kill them with kindness, but if its too much I just won’t talk to them. A few people that come in want me to be mean to them. I don’t really want to, that is just what they expect. I kinda play back and forth with them, kinda jokingly insulting each other. Its all fun; I like to have fun with my customers, and I’ll serve them which ever way they would like me to,” Reid informs.

  • Do talkative people make work more challenging?

“There is always different situations and scenarios. If it’s a slow bar you can take time and have conversations with people, but when its super busy and you’ve got someone asking you lots of questions while you are five deep at the bar, its kinda hard to be really friendly to someone and try to get their every need. Prime example, we have a shelf at Hayley’s with every single beer we have on it. It has lights all around it and they can look at it and see ‘oh there’s a bunch of beers up there.’ If I’m busy I can say here’s this shelf right here if you wanna check out the beer selection. People like you to socialize with them, but I think above that they would like their drink in a timely fashion,” Reid says.

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  • Why should people come to Hayley’s Bar?

“Because it’s a great time. Hayley’s reminds me a lot of a New York neighborhood dive bar. Many of the customers know each other. It may not be the nicest place, but it is like a second home to a lot of people. I think people cut loose at Hayley’s more than they do anywhere else. One recent Saturday night at three or four in the morning we had thirty people singing along to the Titanic theme in the bar. At a certain point there will be certain songs that come on where we will let 3 or 4 people get on the bar and dance. Its fun above all else,” Reid says.

  • Hayley’s is a location that pretty much attracts all types, right?

“I think we have the most diverse crowd on the block. There are certain places that people know as the hipster bar, fratboy bar, or booty shaking bar. In comparison, at Hayley’s has a mix of everybody there. Everybody knows it’s a place to get a drink for a good price, and there’s a jukebox so guests can set the mood for however they want it,” Reid states.

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  • How do you keep people coming back?

“We stay open later than other people, and if we can get people inside and having fun, then we usually win those customers over. I know there is a stigma of the building from the past as a little bit of a rough place. We have worked very hard through the years to make it the hodge podge of weird fun stuff that we have there. It’s now a safe place for people to come and enjoy themselves,” Reid says.

  • What do you think about the potential for the growth of Mobile’s downtown area, especially Dauphin Street?

“I think Dauphin Street has great potential. As Mobile’s population grows, the amount of people who frequent downtown is growing too. We are going through that whole growth experience, but I think it has a lot to offer people. Having law enforcement downtown helps with the crowds. For awhile, the city will have it to where there are not a lot of police downtown, and then when something bad happens they put a lot of police on Dauphin Street. If the city kept a solid force in the entertainment district constantly, they wouldn’t have to try to make up for it getting like the Wild West down here,” Reid suggests.

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