Life

I’m Moving To Florida! (+20 Years)

As of today, February 5, I have lived in Florida for twenty years.

I braved a solo five day moving truck trip through a freakish Mississippi ice storm and a final leg across the panhandle that seemed extraordinarily long, arriving in Flagler Beach in the early evening.   It was a cold, blustery Saturday but it felt like paradise after the -46 wind chill I left 5 days earlier in southern Missouri.

I didn’t come with much.  A 10′ moving van filled with some of my parents’ things they had left with me when they came to Florida a few years before, lots of books, clothes, and some heirloom furnishings.  I had sold most of my furniture, electronics, and even my car to finance the trip.    I had just turned 24 and was coming off a three year “tour of duty” as a juvenile corrections officer.

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With one of my detention co-workers at my send off party in Springfield, MO (Culley’s Pub).  January 23, 1994

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Leading a conga line at Crabby Joe’s. (Summer 1994)

There was a small “Welcome To Florida” party at Crabby Joe’s, the Beverly Beach eatery that would be part of all of our lives here in Flagler County (albeit under different) names until it burned to the ground in December of 2006.  I fully embraced the beach life, getting tan and drinking rum.

I took it easy for a couple of months before answering a help wanted ad for the landmark Sheraton hotel in Palm Coast, thus beginning a twenty year Flagler County hospitality career.  During my stint in hotel management, I was part of the developmental meetings concerning a new attraction with the odd name of European Village.  By the time European Village opened I had shifted gears in my career and was blossoming as a bartender at the beachside Golden Lion.   One of the charter businesses at European Village was a cigar bar known, simply, as The Humidor.

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Recent dolphin sighting while fishing in my backyard.

It is now February 5th, 2016.   I still have wild appreciation for Florida every day, be it appreciation for the scenery, the weather, or the wildlife.   I’m a proud tourist in my own town.   In a twist that I could never have predicted, I now live with a great partner (Christa aka SuperBroad) steps from the former site of the Sheraton (It was flattened in 2004), the promise of a new resort hotel never filled.  All that remains is the waterside pavilion (I had a wedding reception there once) and the still functioning Palm Coast Marina.  Second twist?  I am now the managing partner of The Humidor in European Village and co-founder of the Flagler Cigar Company line of cigars.   My years in Flagler County have been good to me.  I’m calling it right now, I’m officially a Flagler County icon!

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Enjoying a Missouri beer overlooking the Palm Coast Marina (November, 2015)

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After 20 years, I’m most happy when I’m hanging out with these two.

 

 

 

 

 

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An Open Letter To Hungry Howie’s In Palm Coast

I have sat on this for a few days, but the time has come to share this experience.   For the record, I have been providing customer service in Flagler County for nearly 20 years now.    At the old Harborside Inn in Palm Coast (1996 – 2001) I worked as a bellman, front desk clerk, and night auditor before becoming Front Office Manager for the last two years I was there.  I then spent a year working as Operations Manager at Sheraton World Golf Village before coming back to Flagler County where I worked for Tee Times USA (2002-2004) as a golf vacation specialist.   In 2004 I went back to my roots at the Harborside Inn and started my first ever bartending job.  This is also where I received my nickname TikiTender.   The hotel closed in 2005 and I began a 9 year run (2005 – 2014) at the Golden Lion in Flagler Beach.  During my time there I was a bartender and front of house manager.   In 2012 I launched my event bartending company, Fun Coast Bartending.   In summer of 2013, I became managing partner for Flagler Cigar Company, running The Humidor Cigar Lounge in European Village.  Along the way, when I needed some extra cash (especially in the late 90s and early 2Ks) I worked, ironically, as a pizza delivery driver and shift manager at Pizza Hut.   This intro is just my way of saying I have some experience interacting with customers.   

So, to the incident on August 2nd.  I was out running errands and called my significant other to discuss lunch.  She suggested Hungry Howie’s Sticky Fingers pizza, which I was very excited about.   I asked her if she could make the order, since I was driving around.    She placed the carryout order using your online ordering system at 1:12 pm with a 20 minute estimated pick-up time.   According to the the ticket on the box I later received, the order printed in your store at 1:13 pm.   I arrived at your store and checked in on Foursquare at 1:29 pm.  Not really expecting the order to be ready at this point I dilly dallied about the store, let a couple other customers go to the counter, went to the bathroom, etc.   

When I approached the counter a few minutes later, the girl working the counter was confused by the order.  She didn’t see it in the system, etc.  I was a little rankled but figured these things happen. I called my other half to ask if she had a confirmation email from the order.  She forwarded it to me 1:36 pm (23 minutes after the order was received in your store).   Your employee finally located the order and found the ticket hanging.  She said “Here it is!  It is in the oven. Should be out in 2 or 3 minutes”.  She was very pleasant and at this point all was well.  I know sometimes orders take a little longer.   I worked at a different pizza chain for many years.  

So I sat down.  I scrolled through facebook.  Posted a photo of one of the store signs to Instagram at 1:40 and watched as others came and went.  After what was more than 2 or 3 minutes, I stood up and approached the counter again.   I politely asked “What’s happening with that pizza?”  The employee appeared surprised that I was still there and took several laps around the kitchen, looking around.  Meanwhile I could an order ready to pick up (boxes with a ticket attached) on top of the pizza oven.  I assumed it was mine.   She finally saw the same box and handed it to me. 

I’m a polite guy and fully understand the ebbs and flows of customer service, but I had to make a statement about this wait time.   I said (in admittedly exasperated tone) “Come on guys, I’ve been standing here for 25 minutes and my oven was on the oven the whole time.”  This was your chance to win me back.  Instead, I got a sassy “No, you really haven’t [been waiting that long]” from the employee as I turned to leave.  “Yes I really have”, I said as I pushed the door open to leave for what will probably be the last time.  “Congratulations…” I heard as the door closed.  I can’t say what she said, but can speculate it was something like “Congratulations for being a jerk”.     It was 1:52 (39 minutes after the order was placed and 16 minutes after I was told my order was “in the oven”).  It wasn’t the time the order took.  It was the “It’s in the oven and should be ready in two or three minutes” statement. 

I was ready to be wooed.   I sat there patiently.   I could see the general manager / owner in the kitchen.   The opportunity was so close. The chance to shine was right there in front of you.   Right there in front of you was the opportunity to say a simple phrase.  “Sorry about the wait.”    I’m no expert on delivering an outstanding customer service experience.   Actually, scratch that, I AM an expert on delivering an outstanding customer experience.   I know customers aren’t always right.  I know they can be pains in the ass.  I know they can be egocentric.   I also know they like to feel important.  They want to be recognized.  They don’t want to be ignored and made to feel as if they are being done a favor by receiving something they have paid for.  By the way, your employee was right about one thing.  I hadn’t been waiting 25 minutes as I stated.  I was only there for 23 minutes. 

It was right there.   Your chance to go from passive to proactive.  Your chance to say “Sorry about that.  Hope to see you again and we will do a better job.”  But instead, a smartass comment from your employee ruined it and chased away what was, up to that point, a frequent customer who is also a chronic oversharer whose check-ins, instagrams, and status updates are seen by thousands of potential customers in the area.   

In customer service 101, it is taught that you should ask customers about their experience and correct it on the spot.  Why?  Because not only do dissatisfied customers sometimes not come back, they also tell all their friends about their bad experience.  I’m mad at you, Hungry Howie’s.  Mad and disappointed.   I will miss the Sticky Fingers pizza.   

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Tikitender, Out.

Today was a day to end an era.  After nearly 9 years, I gave up my last shift at the Golden Lion in Flagler Beach.   Because of my committments to my two businesses (The Humidor Cigar Lounge and Fun Coast Bartending), I had dropped my time at the Lion down to just one shift per week.   My last “Sunday Funday” shift was today.   The Golden Lion and I enjoyed a great partnership since June of 2005 and I had history there before I became an employee.  If you visit the Lion, you will be walking on tiles that my Dad laid there many years ago.  Life is about balance and, frankly,  I needed a day off.    Cheers to the Marlows and all the great customers I met there over the years.

My days of pouring drinks at The Golden Lion have come to a close.

Categories: Appearances, Life | 2 Comments

Tweetups, Cigars, Music Videos, Tiki Bars, & Moving Trucks? (A summary of my last few days: and my upcoming schedule)

It has been a wild few days in TikiLand, my loyal followers.   I still haven’t had a day off work since before July 4th, but I’m not complaining because I love my job(s) and my life!   On Friday, I started my day at the familiar Golden Lion Tiki Bar, then spent the evening working at The Humidor Cigar & Wine Bar.  On Saturday morning I slept in a little bit, bought supplies for a party, and spent a little time with SuperBroad.  Saturday afternoon I tended bar at a fund-raiser for Flagler Cats.  Post party, I enjoyed a whiskey drink and a little music by Old Haw Creek at Finn’s Beachside Pub before getting a sudden urge for Waffle House.   As I made my way to the Blazer Of Love I encountered DJ Vern & Steffy in the parking lot.  After a short conversation, I headed to the nearest Waffle House.  I actually made it to the parking lot, but my trip was aborted.   My Sunday was full again, with a day at The Humidor followed by the Sunday Night Ska show I host on Surf 1700.

Then came Monday.  What did I do on my first scheduled day off?  Agreed to meet up at 7am to move furniture in Daytona Beach of course!   I had an early morning bro date with DJ Vern that was an epic comedy if you were there.  Somehow the stories don’t do the shenanigans justice but let’s just say they included cargo shorts, parking lot watch salesmen, and Jesus getting a piggy back ride.    I was also finally able to satisfy my Waffle House craving!  After the most entertaining morning I returned to Mos Eisley and lounged the rest of the day with SuperBroad and followed it up with a delicious dinner at Martin’s in Flagler Beach.

Now it is Tuesday morning and I am preparing for a day that will include a Tweetup at the Humidor and the start of an overnight music video shoot for The Cherry Drops.   I will be in the video, playing the bartender at a beach party gone horribly wrong.   Just like real life. 

I will take a day off next week, I promise.

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10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About ‘Bull Durham’

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About ‘Bull Durham’

The 11th thing you probably don’t know about Bull Durham is that is in my Movies Top Five.   The Rest Of The List:  Star Wars (A New Hope), Field Of Dreams, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

My favorite?

6.  [Ron] Shelton had to fight the studio to cast Tim Robbins, because, as Shelton himself points out “Tim Robbins had one credit to his name when I hired him: ‘Howard the Duck’” and because the studio brass thought audiences would balk at the notion of someone as classy as Sarandon having anything to do with a guy like Robbins.

Hilariously, Sarandon and Robbins became a real couple during this movie, and would later name Shelton the godfather of their first child as thanks for giving Robbins a career and a lovely lady.

Read the rest of the list here: www.mandatory.com/2013/05/07/10-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-bull-durham

 

 

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A Beverage Professional’s Work Is Never Done (So, what is your full time job?)

In response to my friend Armand’s recent post about things to NOT ask a writer, in which I responded “What’s your real job?”,  I wanted to show a little glimpse into MY weekly schedule.   People (who in all fairness don’t know better) often ask me the same thing.  “So, what is your day job?” or “I used to tend bar part-time too.”  Player, this is my profession!

Admittedly, many people work in tipped food & beverage jobs  as a stepping stone, or as a way to earn some extra cash, or while going to college.   Fact is, you can’t find a (LEGAL) job that offers more flexibility or cash / hours ratio.  My recent stint on Monday nights at McCharacter’s (a local sports pub) is a perfect example.   Monday nights was an open night for me.  Some weeks were better than others, but on average I earned between $500-$600 a month EXTRA just by working one night a week.  Most of that was in cash.

That being said, if I am in the wrong mood when someone makes a quip about my job not being a real job I can turn surly real quick.  Don’t hate on me just because I appear to enjoy my job and yours sucks.   There are plenty of people in all professions who just go through the motions in their daily work.  I am not one of them.  I recently changed my business card to read “Beverage Professional”, because I am.   So as a reply to those who wonder what my “full time job is” I give you my schedule for this week.

  • Monday 3pm-4:30pm Taste Of Flagler Planning Session
  • Tuesday 8am-11am Mandatory Training Session
  • Tuesday 5pm-8pm Chamber Of Commerce Meet & Greet – Newly elected officials throughout the county are invited to meet Chamber Of Commerce Board Members (I’m on of them)
  • Wednesday 4pm-5pm Chamber Of Commerce Board Meeting
  • Wednesday 5pm-midnight Bar Shift
  • Thursday 5pm-midnight Bar Shift
  • Friday 8am-10am Chamber Of Commerce Diplomat Breakfast
  • Friday 11-5 Bar Shift
  • Sunday 11-6 Bar Shift

There you have it.  Those are my scheduled commitments for the week.  In between I will be writing a newsletter for the Golden Lion, managing the marketing and finance of my own company, meeting and talking with prospective clients, and scheduling facebook status updates, tweets, and blogs for a few others’ companies.

Part time job my jolly ass.

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Life Is Full Of Cycles (Excuse Me While I Whip This Out)

 

Enjoying a hot whiskey – January 6, 2012

 

When I received my Timehop email this morning I realized the symptoms I’ve had the past few days were the same ones I had a year ago today.   The other similarities of  365 days ago are amusing.   Many big things have changed since this time last year, but I like to believe in the small things that make us who we are.

Facebook Status Updates from January 6, 2012:

  • Sniffles and a sore throat this morning. Is it too early for a hot toddy? 9:24am
  • Where’s all the white women at? (from Blazing Saddles) 3:52pm
  • See photo to the left

 

Facebook Status Updates from January 5, 2013:

  • What in the wide wide world of sports is going on here? I hired you boys to try and get a little track laid, not to dance around like a bunch of Kansas City faggots. (also from Blazing Saddles) In the wee hours of am
  • Congestion and chills Thursday and Friday. Now I have a really annoying dry cough. Oddest progression ever. 10:44am
  • See photo below
“The flower that wilted last year is gone. Petals once fallen are fallen forever. Flowers do not return in the spring, rather they are replaced. It is in this difference between returned and replaced that the price of renewal is paid.

And as it is for spring flowers, so it is for us.”
Daniel Abraham, The Price of Spring

Enjoying A hot whiskey – January 5, 2013

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41 Cocktails in 41 Days: Peppermint Stick

41 Cocktails in 41 Days: Peppermint Stick

In 41 Days, I will turn 41 years old.  Until then, I am trying a new cocktail everyday.  You get to come along for the adventure!  I am making and tasting the drinks for the first time in these one take videos.   Thanks for watching!

Day Three:  Peppermint Stick
1 oz peppermint schnapps
1 1/2 oz creme de cacao
1 oz light cream or milk

Shake all ingredients in a shaker half filled with ice.  Strain into a champagne flute.

 

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Tiki Says: Buy Me A Gift!

Are you feeling guilty about missing Bartender Appreciation Day yesterday (12/8)?   Looking forward to Christmas or my birthday (1/24)?   Just want to show me some love?  Click on my wishlist here and start buying!

I’ve been a good boy 🙂

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TikiTender: Zombie Killer?

Dying Days:  The Siege of European Village

Dying Days: The Siege of European Village

TikiTender is all of these things: Promoter,  Award Winning Bartender, Entrepreneur, Fearless Karaoke Singer, Brand Spokesman, Trainer, Blogger, Twitter Legend,  Radio Personality, Consultant, Writer.  As of this week Zombie Killer can be added to the list, at least in the fictional Dying Days universe created by author Armand Rosamilia.  Armand & mystery writer Tim Baker recently began a collaboration.   The result, Dying Days: The Siege Of European Village, was released in digital format this week.  Print versions of the title should be available before Christmas.

The book, set in European Village, features many local personalities including a goatee wearing bartender named Tiki. 

His goatee was long and straggly and the wind tunneling through the openings around European Village was playing havoc with it. His faded Chicago Cubs jersey had seen better days, but he didn’t care at this moment. Mark Woods, affectionately known as Tiki to his friends, had bigger things to worry about.
There was the dull sound of another gunshot and he pointed, dramatically, in the air. “Yet another call to the zombies to feast on us.”
“But what can we really do?” Bethany DeVore asked, sipping from a straw jammed into a bruised plastic fast food drink cup. “It’s safe here.”
Tiki shook his head and gently took the cup from Bethany, staring into her striking blue eyes. He lowered his voice so the others gathered around them in the center of European Village couldn’t hear. “Have you been drinking?”
Bethany smiled, her face lighting up. “It’s my birthday, silly. Of course, I’m drinking.”
Tiki sniffed the straw. It was vodka. He had no idea where she’d come up with the alcohol, and right now it didn’t matter. What he needed to do was convince her that his plan would work, and get her to talk to some of the other diehards who followed Ky without a thought. Bethany was the go-between. “Can you stop long enough so I can talk to the crowd?”
Bethany laughed and looked around. “Crowd? There are six of us. And I’m not even close to being drunk, honey.” She grabbed the cup back and grinned. “I’ll be good.”
Tiki turned back to the other four members of the group, all sitting around the covered bandstand which, in happier times, would house free concerts, special events and book signings for local authors. Now, it was one of the few places not destroyed or filled with debris. Ky had decreed that no one could sleep under it or pitch a makeshift tent because there were too many people fighting over it.
Now they used it to hang out during the day when there weren’t specific jobs to be done. Even with so many survivors, they were spread out across the grounds and in the apartments above.
Tiki turned to Ariane Vinci, a tall, pretty blonde with an arresting smile. She was the only member here paying attention to his exchange with Bethany, and she, clearly, looked amused. The other three sat on the steps of the bandstand and were talking softly among themselves: Carole Faletti, Sue Thompson and Doris Ryan were loyal to Ky but had inquired about the intelligence of leaving the Village before they ran out of supplies or were attacked.
“I think we need to get the general feel for the rest of the survivors. It is obvious Ky will never let us get to Saint Augustine, where I just know there is a better life for us.”
“Then why not send a team to see? Why wouldn’t he do that?” Bethany asked. “It’s obvious we’re running out of food and water. We haven’t added any new stragglers in weeks, and Palm Coast itself is a burnt out mess. Pretty soon our scavenging teams will be going into Ormond Beach or close to Saint Augustine anyway.”
“If there is a thriving city still alive – and I think there is – you don’t think they’ve already cleaned out anything worth taking?” Tiki said, as he casually gathered everyone into a group and put on his positive face. “I say we do what needs to be done before it’s too late. With those idiots shooting from the roof, the undead will be walking over the bridge within hours and surrounding us.”

If you want to read more, you can download the book for your Kindle at amazon.com or in other formats (Ipad, Nook, Kobo or good old-fashioned PDF) at smashwords.com.   I found it to be a quick and entertaining read, especially the parts with that roguish bartender.

“Tiki” and the authors at a recent Entrepreneur Night in Palm Coast. From left to right: Mark Woods, Armand Rosamilia, & Tim Baker. The beauty in front is Camicia Bennett, co-founder of  “The Well-Written Woman”. Click below  to follow them on Twitter, but only if you truly enjoy being entertained.  Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Carol Photography

If you think the group in the photo above looks fun, you are dead right.   They can all be found all over the web, but are especially active on Twitter.  @tikitender, @armandauthor, @blindoggbooks, and @sistersadist.

Categories: Appearances, Life, Media, Photos | 4 Comments

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