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Student workers clock in hours at the Gambier Grill

Student workers clock in hours at the Gambier Grill

By Julia Waldow

A tall, brown, wooden counter separates Brandon January ’15 from his peers on Wednesday and Saturday nights. From 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., January, who plays running back for the Lords, is no longer a student, unlike a majority of the customers sitting across from him. He is a Gambier Grill employee, and he must toe the line between being a friend and a respectable bartender while he pours drinks, cleans glasses and takes orders.

“It’s pretty hectic, especially when people know your name,” January said. “It’s really hard saying, ムHold on one second.’ When people ask for drinks free, it’s tough to say that I can’t do that, even though they’re my friends.”

January started working at the Gambier Grill, colloquially known as the Cove, as a DJ during winter break of his first year.

He is one of three Kenyon students whom Gambier’s diviest bar currently employs, along with Cass Dempwolf ’14 and Fletcher Franklin ’14.

“Sometimes there are small variable shifts for a few hours, like when it’s busy at the bar, and it’s kind of hard to find people who will work that locally,” Manager Andy Durbin said. “It’s worked out that students will pick up a small shift for extra money to spend.”

Durbin explained that Kenyon students rarely work during the same shifts as each other. However, students sometimes work outside of their normal time slots when needed.

“There have been times when somebody has filled in to ナ check IDs [at the door] or work at the bar. Not regularly, but on occasion,” Durbin said.

The students, who work on both weekdays and weekends, find that the Cove’s atmosphere is different depending on the day of the week.

“During the weekdays, it’s a lot calmer,” January said, who works on Saturdays during the football season and two or three nights a week during the winter and spring. “There aren’t as many people, so it’s less chaotic.”

But on the weekends the atmosphere becomes more hectic, when a larger number of people use the food delivery service and imbibe greater amounts of alcohol.

“Sometimes, people try to grab drinks or grab bottles,” January said. “Usually, I ナ give them two chances to stop, and after the third, I decide to throw them out. Usually, it’s people who are trying to get behind the bar or use the Coke gun or grab bottles or the little mixers [and who are] just being completely belligerent.”

Franklin, who has worked as a bartender and a bouncer since the beginning of the semester, has also experienced dealing with troublesome customers while upholding the Cove’s reputation as a respectable business.

“People think that just because they know your name or they met you once, you’re going to let them in without an ID,” Franklin, who lives above the Cove, said. “They don’t really realize that if something happened, [the employee, customer and the Cove are] ナ liable.”

Durbin estimates that about 15 to 20 people are turned away on a busy night for failure to show ID or tell their address. A larger number of people were prevented from entering the Cove during the first couple weeks of the semester, he said.

The Cove employees do not fall victim to the tricks of some students who try to get into the Cove without a proper ID. “You see the same [fake] ID twice,” Franklin said. “But you don’t let it in. You just take it. We have quite a collection of them.”

Despite any challenges Kenyon students may face on the job, student employees such as January and Franklin find working at the Cove is beneficial to their work ethic, patience and skill set.

“It really makes you manage your time,” January said. “Even though in theory I wouldn’t be doing homework at 11 at night on a Saturday ナ I won’t get home until 3 in the morning and if I plan on doing homework on Sunday, then I really have to manage my hours. And playing football is another thing too. Just trying to juggle all of that is pretty difficult, but I definitely would say that I have a greater appreciation for people that are working and trying to [maintain] grades. It just shows you that working a job isn’t easy.”

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