Behind the Counter

Words and phoot by Molly Pomroy

Quineese Works, better known as “Q,” witnesses most of the campus drunk on a weekly basis. The Syracuse native and senior political science major has worked at Chuck’s for almost three years, and just turned 21 this past Monday. Q works at Chuck’s year-round, except when it closes in July. Being a counter girl has its perks, she says, from getting specially prepared food to becoming part of the Chuck’s family.

Q&A

 Did you know about Chuck’s before coming to Syracuse University?

I didn’t know about it before I came to SU, but before I started working there, one of my friends worked there. She actually got me the job. And all the girls on my rugby team went there a lot and made it sound like Candy Land for adults.

What’s the job’s biggest perk?

The environment — I have a lot of fun when I’m working there. Plus, it sucked when I wasn’t 21, because I couldn’t go to bars and hang out with people I wanted to hang out with. But when I’m working, I get to see them, I still get to be a part of the bar scene.

What’s the greatest thing you’ve seen?

I’ve seen some really cool and epic things. Like the seniors in the Class of 2011, the last night they came to Chuck’s, they refused to leave. They legitimately refused to leave. And we were all like, “Well, what do we do?” And the owner was like, “Play them another song!” So we played them another song, and everyone was chanting and crying, just really happy.

What would you do if all the tags on the wall were painted over?

Well, I haven’t tagged the wall yet. So if it were painted over, I’d wait, and slyly be the first one to tag it. And then I would cry for those who already have.
The tags definitely add a quality that none of the other bars have. You go to another bar and obviously people will still tag a wall or whatever, but it’s not like at Chuck’s. People describe Chuck’s as the bar with all the graffiti on the walls, and now the tags have become a part of its identity.

How do all the employees interact with each other?

We’re like a little family. When one guy started to work with us, he told us that he has worked at a lot of bars, and that he’s never seen co-workers who work so well together and don’t brawl or all hook up with each other. It’s really a great experience.

Have you ever had a confrontation with a customer?

Yeah, people like to argue about their fries. We do a number system, so we will tell you your check number and then it comes up on a little screen on the wall. When people get really drunk they tend to forget their number, or they lose what we gave to them. They’ll get their tabs and they’ll come up and be like, “These are my fries!” So I ask them their number and they have no clue.

Do customers typically respect you?

Not most of them. It really depends. Each senior class is a little bit different, so when I first started working I didn’t know any of the seniors, but they were pretty nice. I had started working in their spring semester so they were all like, “Let’s just have fun and get drunk!”
But when people first start coming to the bars after they turn 21, they don’t really know bar etiquette. They think I’m just going to give them their stuff and they can leave me two cents and not say thank you.

Has anyone ever been outwardly rude to you?

Yeah, I get that a lot. Typically if you’re already a rude person, you get drunk and it doesn’t make it better. They’re just willing to argue or give you attitude as if we aren’t doing them a service. We don’t owe it to them by any means.

Have you ever had to throw anyone out?

This guy kept harassing me and another counter girl. Not physically, but he wouldn’t go away. He just kept asking us questions like, “Why aren’t you bartenders yet? You girls are so pretty.” And there’s always a bouncer over with us, and the bouncer asked if he was giving us a hard time. But the guy wouldn’t leave. So the bouncer just threw him out. I didn’t get to — I don’t get to manhandle anyone.

Are there a lot of fights on any given night?

Well, yeah. They don’t usually get past a couple shoves because the bouncers see it really fast. They have nothing else to do, so I’ve seen people get grabbed and tossed out. Obviously I’ve never seen anyone tossed, like parallel to the ground, but I’ve definitely seen people get beat up a bit. A couple of them got dragged to the door.

Have you worked on Halloween?

I have not. I have worked on the days around Halloween, and everyone is dressed up then. It’s all in good fun, because we know it’s Halloween. One of the bartenders one time dressed up as the old owner, which was really funny.

What’s your perfect Chuck’s meal?

I have concocted some delicious food. But Momo, he’s one of the cooks — well, he’ll do this for me, I don’t know about anyone else — he makes this decked-out chicken breast sandwich with all the fixings on top, and a side Caesar on the plate.
Another one of the cooks, depending on what food is back there, he’ll just make up a bunch of stuff for the employees. He makes this really good white pizza with spinach and feta. And he’ll make shish kabobs for us.

 

 

 

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