Behind the bar in a bad economy

February 16, 2009 4:17:57 PM PST
Many people can't wait for the economic stimulus package to kick in, beause they need more money now.But, some people are mixing it up and trying something new, like bartending.

More and more people are making extra cash by slinging drinks at bars and restaurants.

It's for that reason business is booming at the Mixology Wine Institute in Philadelphia.

Not only are class sizes filling to the rim since the economy ended up on the rocks, but a school that normally attracts 20-somethings is seeing an influx of future bar-keeps in their 40's, 50's, even 60's.

That includes 63-year-old Nick Repholz of Essington who recently landed his first bartending job.

"I'm retired, but retirement isn't paying enough in today's economy. So bartending's a good way to go," Repholz said.

Another recent graduate of the school is Joe Parkinson of Drexel Hill.

Joe's a real estate agent who's not selling a whole lot of houses these days, so he decided to mix a few margaritas to make ends meet.

"I wish I did this when I was 20. I'm 44 now but I wish I was 20 when I did it. I'm just having a blast," Parkinson said.

School Director Ariela Geshury says what makes bartending so attractive in a sour economy is that even if you have another career and it suddenly disappears, the alcohol industry will never disappear.

"It gives them the confidence to quit a job and to move around. They're not dependent on a pay-check. They get paid per night. It's cash," Geshury said.

Now, it's an industry open to staunch anti-smokers. Just ask 47 year old Joe Gray, a laid-off corporate consultant who thought about bartending in his youth.

"The smoking problem sort of prevented me but once the smoking ban came in it made it easier for me to work in a bar all day long," Gray said.

Action News spokes to a number of other bartending schools across the area, and all report rising enrollment tied to the sinking economy.

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