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If slapping the S*** out of someone that deserves it was legal, how many customers would get slapped during your shift tonight. After bartending for 10 years I’ve had my fair share of moments were I was close.

1. The Young Bar Star – while working at a suburb nightclub, I encounter this enthusiastic little vixen. She loves attention and starts her order at my bar by asking “Can I get a free shot if I show you my tits?” ~ what? I am so tempted to reach over the bar and give her a smack, delivered with the message, “this is from your father.”

2. The Vodka Aficionado – while working in a casual-high-end restaurant/lounge I encountered this winner often. He only drinks Grey Goose Vodka and even when ordering a Caesar demands it. Now I’m all for giving people what they want, no judgement here. But this dude feels like he needs to announce it to the whole bar so everyone knows he’s an idiot. I mention to him, there’s no way you can tell the difference in a Caesar. Why bother? He laughs. “When you can afford it you only want the best. Only Goose, always.” Ok, pay more for no reason, cool with me, bigger bill. But I still have to resist the urge to reach over the bar and smack the pompous grin off his face and slap some sense into him.

3. The Ice Hater – the laws of physics escapes this dunce. While bartending at a busy downtown nightclub a customer freaked out when I filled his glass with ice. “Why you ripping me off man? My drinks all ice.” I showed him the shot glass and pointed out the fact that the amount of rum in his rum and coke was constant. The only thing the ice does is make the drink stronger cause less coke, plus keeps the drink cold. “Ya ya whatever. I don’t want to buy ice I want to get drunk.” ~ What? His ignorant response made me want to ask him, what the five fingers said to the face? “UNITY!”


The 4 Guys You will Date in the Industry

When you’re dating in this industry, your pool is small and close to home. Maybe it’s because you work weird hours, maybe it’s because you don’t see anything wrong with binge drinking on a Wednesday, or maybe it’s because you’re so conditioned by restaurant humour that normies consider you insane. Regardless of why we date our co-workers, here are the four boys you’ll “date,” (and using that term very loosely,) in this industry.

A) The hot Chef: He burly, loud, tattooed and likes to drink. You never really considered him a prospect. How could you? You’re from two different worlds. Until one day, you’re waiting at the pass for table 33’s mains and you see him shouting orders at the line cooks. Everything goes silent and there’s a slow motion fire ball coming from oil hitting a pan in the distance. You make eye contact through the chaos as he wipes his brow and smiles. You’ll date for a year before you realize that you can’t love his alcoholism away.

B) The MEGA babe: Maybe he’s a busboy on the weekends, maybe he works nights to keep his days open for auditions but he’s so hot, you stumble over your words when you have to talk to him. One night, you’ll go out for drinks with the team and you’ll end up alone, somehow. His eyes pierce through your soul as you discuss his workout routine and you cut him off with a kiss. Throw your fist in the air like Judd Nelson, mama. You got it.

C) The Server that everyone thought was gay but then surprise, he’s not: Your guard is down with him because he’s always thrown out gay vibes and that one time he was in a relationship, he always used the word, “partner”. You’re having drinks after work and he puts the moves on you and IT’S TOTALLY WORKING. Cut to: he bangs you silly and you pledge to never assume someone’s sexual preference again. How many lost opportunities?

D) The douchey Bartender: He oozes ego and he’s got a gaggle of groupies. You’ve never been attracted to a man that cocky until one evening, he tells his swooning barflies to beat it and singles you out from the post-shift herd. Then you get it. For one to five nights only, he is your charismatic leader. He makes you feel like you’re the only girl in the world…but usually falls short in the sack. Oh well, we can’t have it all.



We may look like average people but we have a couple inhuman abilities

1) inhaling food

You’re starving. You’re one tummy rumble away from stealing a fry off of table 63’s dinner plate. There’s no time. Table 4 needs refills, table 9 is missing a ranch, and you’re 10 top’s food is up. What do you do? You don’t chew…ain’t got time for that. You inhale. Seeing a server eat is something out of a sci-fi movie. How we have learned to eat an entire burger and fries with no evidence of a chew is unbelievable, and can make for very awkward first dates.

2) being able to smile when you actually want to kill

Regular people may not understand the self control and super human strength this entails.
When someone flags you down during lunch rush, pissed off because they are super ready to order and they thought you “left for the afternoon” then proceeds to take a solid four minutes running their stupid fingers up and down the words of the menu because in all actuality they have no clue WHAT THEY WANT……and you can still smile? And not attack? YOU, my friend are an anomaly. Bread salutes you.


How To Understand Your Hostess

When it comes to modern slang, some of us are hopelessly out of touch. Let’s scratch the surface of what the kids are saying, shall we?

FR – For Real

Sus – Short for Suspect or Suspicious. Can be used as an adjective or a verb.

Dead – Apparently when something is too amazing/funny, millennial’s die, and you can too. Instead of laughing, just announce that you are now deceased.

Woke – When someone has realized or is aware of something or drops some knowledge, he/she may be referred to as “woke”.

Shade – Usually thrown, shade is judgement. Like, to call someone out would be throwing shade.

Extra – Being/having/doing too much.

TFW – That Feel When

See, we still got it. 😉


Life Beyond the Wood

I Got Out!

Every day, as I ride my bike to work I look at my hands in awe. For the first time in 12 years I have soft hands, and fingernails that do not instigate curiosity about my gender.

This little spark of vanity is just an inkling of the benefits I have been reaping since my break up with the hospitality industry. Though I have had a solid romance with my guests and my coworkers, the toll the job took on my knees, my back, my sleep cycle and my social life was outweighing the benefits.

The decision to leave my sanctuary behind the wood was not only fueled by my physical ailments but also by my sobriety. I had given up alcohol nearly two years ago, and though I love the bar culture, the history of cocktails, the art of bartending; with time I began to really see how detrimental the bottle can be to some. Slowly but surely I began to find myself in a moral dilemma which resulted in the imminent decision of no longer pouring libations for others.

As I have had the opportunity to step back I realize that the “industry” is just one big university experience. The first couple of years (decade) is the socializing, the drinking, the partying, and slowly, you begin to get good at what you do. Your skills allow you to choose which restaurants you would like to work at. You no longer need a resume, as you have at one point worked with almost every person that can get your foot in the door. The initial fear of walking up to tables is now something you could do in your sleep. And voila! you have your first degree; the ability to speak to ANYONE.

Deciding to go for your “Master’s degree” is when you become selective about where you want to work, when you hone your craft to the point of being coveted, when you earn your Sundays & Mondays off, when you can jump in on any station and dissolve any issue. I believe by your late 20’s, early 30’s you are granted this Master’s as you are in this now by decision. The plateau that follows this degree is what brings light to the fork in the road ahead of you. Are you going to be a lifetime academic? Or will you take this education and apply it to an industry where you keep the hours the rest of the world does.

Not unlike the university experience, the most important takeaway from this field of education is your social connections. If you do decide to make the transition into another career and you are confident with your skills, you can sell yourself to anyone. You are proficient in problem solving, are excellent at time management, can level with any type of person, work well under pressure and most importantly have the social skills 80% of people wish they did. The biggest decision is to choose the field of work that will satisfy your professional needs. Here is when you start chatting absolutely everyone and anyone up.

To make the initial transition a little less difficult I would recommend holding on to your bar/restaurant job to start. It is hard to cut from your industry family cold turkey, especially when you realize you have no friends that have weekends off. Slowly, as you burn yourself out working two jobs, you shed your hospitality skin and hang it up in your closet, hoping it will still fit someday.

It is a sad breakup, it is. As you begin to look at your own longevity, benefits and career possibilities, the need for separation becomes inevitable. That being said, open your eyes to ALL other options, just because the hospitality industry is no longer your jam does not mean there aren’t a ton of other fun jobs out there.

What do I do now?

I sell weed, legally. I may have been able to brush a lot of things off but catering to vices was not one of them.

Yours Truly,


Julia Comu Byline Image


The Server’s Dilemma

Brian Cook | IF YOU DON’T KNOW | Web

Half the guests for your friend’s 12-person birthday party are over 30 minutes late. You’re sweating. The other half is only drinking water. You order a second double and an appy. It’s 6 o’clock and your date doesn’t like the table you’ve been given. You’d rather die than ask to be moved. Your entrée came out cold. You’re overly understanding. The restaurant is swamped and they forgot to ring in your order. You tip 25%.

You are Industry People.

While these scenarios might be cringe worthy for the common patron, they cut like a steak knife for those of us in the industry. We don’t FEEL the same way non-industry people feel about dining. We know too much.

Imagine David Copperfield going to a magic show. He’d know how the tricks work, and if he didn’t he’d be trying to figure them out instead of enjoying the experience. I can picture him, standing at the back all in black with his beautifully coifed hair, palms sweating, knowing which part is going to be difficult for the young performer. That’s me when I see a server clearing my table, and almost dropping a dirty plate on my date. I fall silent, and my heart pounds – I want to help.

There is something about seeing behind the curtain that has ruined the dining experience for me entirely. I no longer have the luxury of feeling entitled to great service. I don’t get the satisfaction of complaining about poor service. Instead, I have empathy. When my server is running around, clearly in the weeds, I don’t feel like another drink – I want to pick up a table for them.

Sometimes, in desperate attempt to comfort a server in distress, I drop the, “Don’t worry, I’m a server too…” line. Is that embarrassing for them? Is the expectation higher now? Have I made it worse? The real questions is, why am I distracted by how this person feels at this moment? They are the ones doing a terrible job.

The worst part is always tipping. I find it impossible to tip less than 15%, even for abysmal service, which leaves me with an acute case of diner’s remorse. If, during the course of the meal, I mention that I’m a server, I’m guaranteed to throw down a minimum 20% tip.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve received my fair share of incredible service and delicious meals. In these instances, I still find myself distracted with thoughts resembling, “I wonder who their produce supplier is… GFS?”; “How big are these sections?”; “Is my server going to do quality check on the temperature for me?”. I simply cannot go out and enjoy a good meal without overthinking the entire process from my server’s well-being to the chef’s personal hygiene.

In truth, it doesn’t matter where the red peppers came from, and the steak is cooked perfectly. I’m not David Copperfield, and that drowning server isn’t going to let me pick up that table. I know all of that. But my mind wanders, my emotions follow, and my enjoyment of the dining experience wanes.

There must be a part of you that is expecting me to provide some kind of solution to this problem. Some new mantra you can repeat to yourself the next time you find yourself incapable of allowing yourself to simply enjoy being a customer. Well…I don’t. My only advice is to find somewhere you like and become a regular, or get good at cooking at home and tip yourself well. You deserve it.



The Transition

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Stirling Griffiths | WHAT’S NEXT? | Web

I have always been enamoured by the food and beverage industry.

Sitting in the middle of a restaurant, hearing the plates being stacked, smelling table 40’s grilled prawns, taking the first sip of a freshly opened bottle of wine.

Each time I enter a restaurant I feel like I am home. There is a comfort level, an understanding, a longing to be a part of what’s happening all around me.

From the day I began bussing tables in a small brewpub in North Vancouver 12 years ago, I knew my life would somehow revolve around the food and beverage industry. To this day I have never felt my job…is a job. I often I have to stop and think to myself…wow I am getting paid for this? I have worked in five star Hotels and small family-owned restaurants. Each place has grown me in a different and positive way.

Once I finished my business management degree at BCIT, I realized that there has to be a way to combine this incredibly exciting world of restaurants and bars into a focused career with longevity and most importantly, equity. As a very close friend and highly respected industry professional said to me one time, “sweat equity only gets you so far.”

Luckily for me, after searching for many years the perfect opportunity dropped right on my plate, pun intended. A small passenger vessel came for sale in Harrison Hot Springs, BC. My father-in-law had been working for a helicopter logging company was also searching for an opportunity to invest. The boat had a been touring passengers around the Harrison Hot Springs Lake and tributaries since 2003, and had positive revenues showing for the previous 5 years. There was a large BBQ, good-sized kitchen, and the ability to host groups up to 36 guests. The creative juices began to follow from my head, Afternoon tea and Champagne receptions on private boat-access-only beaches, intimate weddings.

After an in depth investigation into the financials, a feasibility study, and most importantly, approval from my loving wife, we decided to move forward. Now moving into our second year of operations, we have a liquor license, a restaurant, and a small team of full time staff.

Without all of my hospitality experience I don’t think I would have been ready for this venture. Certain tasks such as hiring staff, creating training manuals, or building menus could have never been taught in a classroom. The service industry needs to be learned on the job, through hours of dedication, mistakes, wins, and dealing with guests from all walks of life.

If you have a genuine love for the F&B industry I encourage you to stick with it. The late nights, intense working environment, and difficult customers will make you stronger and appreciate the other side of the table even more. Learn from the people around you, absorb as much information as possible, and continue to build your menu of skills.

Stirling Griffiths
Director of Sales and Marketing
Shoreline Tours




Monday PATH

monday PATH feature image
Jess Knoll | PATH | Web


If you’re in Vancouver and you’re looking for something to do on Monday, check out this PATH from Jess Knoll. 



The 5 Types of People Who Approach the DJ Booth

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Daren Denker | A SPECIAL PLACE IN HELL | Web

1: The “It’s my friend’s birthday,” person

The old favourite: “It’s my friend’s birthday and she wants you to play the “Blah Blah song.” We all know this one. It’s one of the most common ways of people asking for a track. They think you’ll refuse any tune they ask for, so they pretend it’s their friend’s birthday to get you to agree. Of course, it’s rarely their birthday, or their friend’s.

2: Drunk guy that keeps coming back and repeating himself

One of the most common requesters is a drunk guy who is fixated on one tune that has nothing to do with the music you’re playing. It’s a tune that you could never play in any club or party, anywhere. Generally, this guy will have heard this tune a few days ago and will have fallen in love with it. So now, in his drunken state, he thinks you should play it. He’s annoying too, coming back and repeating himself, sometimes swearing if you don’t play it. Even when he gets distracted by a girl and goes away, he’ll eventually come back and ask again. You’ll tell him you don’t have the tune. He might see you have a laptop and tell you to play it directly from YouTube. Then he’ll try to plug his iPhone in and play it from that. Whatever happens, it must get played for him.

3: Girl (and friend) who keep coming back and insisting you play their music

Sometimes, there’s a girl who’ll keep on asking you for different tunes when you play. She’s had a few drinks but still knows what she’s doing and she knows her music a bit. And she’ll have a list of about 10 tunes that she’ll ask for at different points of the night. According to her, you must play them, because they’re so cool and trendy. “What, you don’t know these tunes?! They’re being played at all the clubs downtown!” This girl may get in a huff and disappears, then come back with someone to support her, as if it makes her more powerful. The person she’s with doesn’t really care if you play her track or not, but they pretend they agree with her if it makes their life easier.

 4: The Latin music requester

If you’re playing in a Latin country, or a Latin night, this probably doesn’t apply to you. Otherwise, on occasions, you may encounter a group of Latin-music lovers in your crowd. Guess what they want to hear? Yep… Whether you’re playing electro, house, hip hop or rock and indie they’ll come right up to you asking for Latin music. You could be a DJ at an underground jungle vibe party and they’ll still brazenly insist you put on pure Latin music right away. They’ve come all the way from Bogotá, Lima or Santiago just to ask for Latin sounds!

5: Person who asks for something but never knows what

This kind of requester can make you bang your head on the wall. They’ll ask you for something from the 80s, or they’ll ask for commercial chart house music, or something random. But the thing is, they have no idea what. They just know they want to ask you to play something, by someone. For them. If you ask them what it is they want, they don’t know. In fact, what they know about music is summed up nicely in their 20 seconds of blank expression that follows.


How to: Jerk Caesar

jerk caesar feature image


1 thick slice of pineapple cut into wedges
1 full pineapple slice
2 lime wedges
1 small bunch of cilantro
2 ounces Maureen’s Natural Foods Jerk Sauce
½ ounce of Matouks Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce
2 oz of your favourite Vodka
1 tablespoon Ox Tail Seasoning
3 oz of Clamato
Several drops of Worcestershire Sauce


Muddle the pineapple wedges, lime, cilantro and jerk sauce. Fill the glass with ice and add the two shots of vodka, cover and shake shake shake. Grab your fancy Caesar glass and place upside down on the pineapple slice to moisten the glass rim and rim the glass in the Oxtail Seasoning. Strain mixture over your ice-filled, rimmed Caesar glass. Fill the glass with Clamato juice but leave space at the top. Drop in the Matouks Pepper sauce, Worchest..Lea & Perrins. Add a topper anything that is fun to eat with spicy and wont go limp when soaked in Caesar. Voila you’re ready to go! 


The Beast Whisky

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Bryce Parsons | IF YOU DON’T KNOW | Web

Lets rewind to about year ago… the evacuation.

May 3rd 2016 will be remembered as a day that altered the history of Fort McMurray. An estimated 88,000 people were under mandatory evacuation as an untamed wildfire, titled The Beast, quickly surrounded the community. The blaze burned aggressively consuming 2400 homes, 2000 additional residencies and a total of 1.5 million acres of Northern Alberta boreal forest — by far the costliest disaster in Canadian history.

Brave firefighters fought back the flames ‘holding a line’ to protect the downtown core from being consumed and losing everything. Response and aid were unprecedented as news reached around the globe. Donations poured in to help the many displaced. Wood Buffalo Brewing Co. sits within the core of Fort McMurray. Within it, is Alberta’s most northern distillery quietly producing a moderately peated single malt whisky called Kavan — a homage to the founders 1st born.

The re-entry…

From June 1st to 15th, 2016 authorities allowed a phased re-entry into the community. For some, houses were untouched, for others, everything lost. The brewery was spared but sustained significant smoke damage. Among the smoke was a single pallet of peated malt sitting outside the brewery waiting to be turned into the next batch of Kavan Whisky. Caught in the havoc, these grains unwittingly absorbed the smoke.

Head Brewer Spike Baker was in charge of the brewery’s re-entry. For the past month, he was living off the charity given by friends, family, and everyone that helped while displaced. At the time, despite not knowing it, he was responsible for capturing time within a whisky bottle. Eventually titled — “The Beast”, after the fire.

Where are we now…

It is approximately a year later. Wood Buffalo Brewing Co. is operating once again, beer is flowing, the still is hot, and the community is rebuilding.

For this article I asked Spike to recall a conversation that was the start of “The Beast” Whisky

“I always think about the conversation between us when you came up with the idea. You had phoned me to ask how I was doing with the evacuation. We started discussing the brewery and possible loses, beers that we were going to have to dump due to power being out, etc. I mentioned that we had just received a new pallet of the peated malt but with the amount of smoke in town there would be no way it would be the same — we would probably need to bin it. You immediately saw the opportunity for something special.”

During cleanup the pallet of malt was discovered and saved. The malts’ quality was assured safe for use.

A whisky to be made!

the beast in story image
Image Courtesy of Leah Schwantz

We knew the whisky would be smokey. Not only was it already peated, it rested in forest fire smoke for over a month. We enlisted the help of Eddie Douglas, commercial director of Bairds Malt UK (the Scottish producer of the peated malt) to come and test the malt and confirm how much modification occurred. Spike mentioned, “As someone who follows the journey of that grain from seed to still and confirm just how much modification happened was huge”.

The next 5 years…

Over a career, distillers are part of creating numerous special releases, celebratory expressions, and personal offerings. However, it is very rare to be handed something that is influenced by tragedy.

The whisky is distilled and resting in 110L virgin american oak casks of various char levels. Off the still, the new make was dynamic with sweet peat smoke upfront followed by a dry smoke of pine and mint reminiscent of a summer campfire.

Once available, all proceeds will be donated to the Friends of the Fort McMurray Firefighters Charities Fund in honour of the firefighters saving the city and making this whisky possible.

Bottle count is only an estimation currently. However, a total 75 special release cask strength bottlings will be auctioned off biannually in-store and over the internet, until the whisky is removed from barrel in 2021. Bottles 1 through 10 collected a combined total of $44,000 for charity — a huge success to start off.

For all involved, Spike says it best;

“Working hand in hand with the fire department to ensure the whisky belongs to the community and can be used to remember the positives that came from this event; neighbours doing whatever it takes to help each other get out safely, the fire fighters numerous acts of heroism in saving the town and the generosity of the rest of the province and country in assisting us in our refugee status”.

This continues to be an incredibly rewarding project. As time goes on, this double smoked, 100% peated, Canadian malt whisky will be resting quietly as the community of Fort McMurray rebuilds and stories emerge.

To follow the story. Check in @woodbuffalobrew and on Facebook at Wood Buffalo Brewing Co.

Bryce Parsons Byline Image


Shout Out To Phil’s Replacement

i see you baby feature image

Dzaka | I SEE YOU BABY| Issue 3

Have you ever been out at a venue and watched someone kick-ass at their job? We have too. We’ve got eyes all over these cities, checking you guys out. Shout-outs to those who are awesome! In this issue, Dzaka observes.  

I’m posted up at the bar of my neighbourhood pub, Colony Main Street. It’s Sunday afternoon, the smell of brunch is in the air and the Jays are on mute while old-school Hip Hop quietly bumps through the speakers. Great Sunday! I mean, I’m wearing sweats that are designed to look like pants. They have belt loops for fuck sakes. Dope, but I digress.

The first thing I notice is the regular bar man, Phil, is nowhere to be seen. The second, is the poor sap who took Phil’s shift, is flailing hard. Anyone who has ever worked a day shift knows that brunch is challenging at best. Over easy this and dry toast that. Fuck me! What I can admire about people who work this god-awful shift is how easy they make it look.

The young man behind the bar is learning a valuable lesson: never take Phil’s shift. The chits are piling up, half the wood wants their bills and the other wants drinks, and wouldn’t you know it, a keg of Lonetree Cider, which is on special, just blew… Good times.

Now this guy, whom I’ve never met, is handling his whooping like a champ. Still smiling, although there are definitely a few beads of sweat slowly trickling down his forehead. It’s kind of funny because I’ve had my ass handed to me plenty of times, which makes me empathize with the dude.

Can the average patron say the same? Fuck if I know, but that question’s got me wondering about the people who just left the bar, for damn sure. I’m thinking, are they seeing what I’m seeing, or are they hobbling to their app to talk shit about my boy who is doing a solid for my brother in arms, Phil? Are they bitching about how long their beers took, or admiring the graceful way this dude is taking his ass-kicking? More likely, they are thinking about how slow the eggs were and not taking into account the full restaurant, the line up outside and the lone man on the bar doing his best. It ain’t easy filling Phil’s shoes. He does the work of two, no sweat. The new guy literally just busted a pint glass in his hand as I write this. No shit!!

If you have never lived your life in service of others, chances are, you just don’t get it. But we do. So, new guy, I see you and I salute your effort.

dzaka byline image