Cead Mile Failte

Cead Mile Failte

A hundred thousand welcomes. So sayeth Wiktionary. I’m missing some accent marks.

Been stuck in the old noggin for a few weeks. Well past the time to get back on the road. Thursday, hard limit.

It’s easy to declare an interest in document photography and storytelling. Sure sounds interesting. But it’s not necessarily interesting, especially if all you ever do is think about it. I decided that tonight I needed to get out of my noggin. Tell a story. A quick story. An Instant Story.

For years now I’ve been ducking into Rosie McCaffrey’s for a pint of Guinness or Harp. It’s a reliable neighborhood Irish pub on Camelback in Phoenix. It’s just what you want in a neighborhood watering hole. Friendly regulars, friendly staff. They hold onto their people, and those people remember your face and your drink.

Rosie McCaffrey’s, Phoenix. Terrible Instax Square photo. Don’t care.

Rosie McCaffrey’s, Phoenix. Terrible Instax Square photo. Don’t care.

Who What Where When. The Why seems pretty obvious, the How seemed unnecessary.

I headed to Rosie’s tonight. I hoped Marcie (sp?) was working. I’ve known her for a long time, and it’d be easy to tell her that I wanted to ask about Rosie’s. She wasn’t working, so I did the next best thing. I just asked. I’ll keep the bartender anonymous. I didn’t explain that I’d be writing about the bar on my amazing but unread blog.

Rosie’s has been around since 2002. Seamus McCaffrey opened it. He used to own Seamus McCaffrey’s and The Dubliner. According to the bartender (henceforth TB), Seamus was the first person in Arizona to pour a proper Guinness. That surprised me. TB explained that Seamus went to St. James Gate and told Guinness that he wanted to serve the beer in Phoenix. TB further explained that in the beginning, Seamus was pouring Guinnesses out of his truck. I reckon there’s a 50% chance of that being fact, 50% urban lore. I’ve been to Ireland a few times and have Irish relatives – I’ve always suspected that there’s an Irish tradition of not letting facts get in the way of a good story.

A few years ago Rosie’s got pretty quiet. I worried about its longevity. I asked another bartender (TB2) about that. TB2 mentioned the usual suspects. Increased competition, some staff turnover, and an attempt to mix things up (music, menu, etc.) That round of competition didn’t last, and the bar got back into a rhythm. It’s busy every time I go in there. Karaoke, trivia, and live music. It still gets quiet (my selfish preference), but not a fearful quiet. Normal lulls.

I asked TB a similar question about that lull. TB also referred to the competition but explained that they weathered that storm. Consistency. Hold onto your staff and your regulars.

We talked about staffing in the industry. TB has been there for a while, but TB is still a relative newcomer. Rosie’s holds onto its people.

That’s rare in the restaurant/bar industry. Restaurants and bars can’t offer many traditional promotions. Veterans find promotions in higher volume, better tips, better location, preferred shifts, etc. Maybe you’re earning your credentials to grab that afternoon slot at a shot and beer kind of place. Maybe you’re hungry and want the big bucks at the churn and burn club.

TB has been in the industry 20+ years. They could earn a lot more money at a higher volume bar, but Rosie’s works for them. I can see why. One of these days I’ll get the fish and chips.