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May 3, 2007

You got served ... eventually

Someone needs to light a fire under half the bartenders in this city. Pretty much every time I go out in Baltimore, I run into the same problem: lackluster service.

Unless I’m the only person in the place, and I have the bartender’s undivided attention, I usually stand there with money in my hand while the bartender chats up a friend or fellow server or flat out ignores customers instead of taking drink orders. Some bartenders have this attitude where they think it’s your privilege to be served by them.  

Sure, it can get stressful when the bar’s packed and people are shouting drink orders. But when I go out in Washington, Philadelphia or New York City, the bartenders seem to be twice as efficient. I’ve rarely waited long in those cities.

Yeah, I know, the beer’s much cheaper in Baltimore. And the bartenders are friendlier here, on the whole. That’s all well and good. But when I need a refill, I’d like to have one without a whole lot of wrangling.

What has your experience been with service in city bars? Feel free to leave a comment. 

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)


I actually think that Baltimore has the most surly and unfriendly bartenders that I've ever encountered! I once had a bartender YELL at me for mispronouncing the name of a beer. He would not serve it to me until I pronounced it correctly. The stupid thing is - I was pronouncing it right and he was wrong.
I don't drink there anymore.

It is so true that the service is lacking here! Both at the bars and at tables I consistently encounter it! I am a former bartender/server myself, and understand how hard it can be, but there is a lack of efficiency/ urgency that is coupled with an expect for top tier gratuity! A lot of servers wouldn't make it in the cut-throat market of NY or DC.

As for the beer prices, it ain't that much cheaper any more!

It's sort of a mixed bag in Baltimore I think. If you go to a bar where it's someone you know personally bartending, you tend to get left on the back burner because the bartender thinks you don't mind. And truthfully, most times I don't mind, because that bartender might slip me a free drink from her comp and maybe do a shot with me. Sometimes patience pays off. I've found the more surly and pretentious bartenders at (surprise?) "upscale" bars.

Wow -- I have visited Baltimore on several occasions, specifically for the pubs, and have been overwhelmed by the friendliness of the bartenders. I've scored more beer glasses than I ever could have imagined, and have had some really great conversations with my bartender. Maybe my out of town aura took over?

Was it many and many a year ago, in a kingdom by the sea?

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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