The tender: Jon Doholis (Bar Manager)
The bar: Cork (4991 S. Alma School Road, 480-883-3773)
The pedigree: Doholis has been involved in the food industry for most of his life -- he got a start working at a restaurant in Kansas City at 16, lived with a chef roommate for a while, and logged several years performing myriad duties at a now-defunct restaurant in North Scottsdale. He came to Cork in October 2008 and waited tables until about a year ago, when he became the restaurant's bar manager.
How did you end up here?
The woman who cuts my hair also cuts Robert's [Morris, Cork's owner] hair. She had her birthday party at our old restaurant, and we did a private thing for her and it was a lot of fun. The next year we weren't open, so she invited me to Cork to celebrate her birthday. I had never been to Chandler, but I came here and fell in love with the look and the vibe. The one thing I remember is they had antelope -- I had never been to any place with antelope on the menu. I'm adventurous, I tried it, and it was amazing. I wanted to work somewhere where I could learn a lot, and I felt this was the place for that.
Having worked in all parts of the restaurant, is bartending the best job you can have?
The way you get to interact with guests is great. It would be difficult for me to go back to the floor because there's such a tactile, visceral quality up here -- all your people are right in front of you, you're there doing stuff and they're talking to you. I think it's a lot of fun. What I like what I do now, beyond bartending, when you're serving, a lot of times they'll call you and say, hey, you don't need to come in today. Now my job is more structured -- more like a "real" job.
Working here, you have to have a pretty vast knowledge of wine too, right?
Yeah. It's a hard job; you have to taste a lot of wine. The most difficult part is the inventory -- we have 2,500 to 3,000 bottles.
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As bartender, are you picky about what you drink?
I wish I could say I'm cooler about what I drink when I go out, but it's usually pretty lame. Sometimes I'll get bottle of wine, but I really like drinking beer. The people here make fun of me because I like to drink PBR, Miller Lite and shots of Jäger. I love going to Boulder's on Broadway. They have a nickname for me there. They call me Johnny Midnight, because I always go there late after we close the restaurant. I tell you what: When it's hot like this, there's nothing like a cold, canned beer.
You guys recently premiered a vegetarian food menu and some cocktails to go along with it. Where did you get the inspiration for those?
A lot of the idea came from the food side -- we wanted to showcase to the people who come in here that even though vegetarian options may not be on the menu, we can make them. Usually it's a matter of just asking people what kind of vegetarian they are. Are they vegan, do they not eat fish, etc. When a vegetarian comes in, I usually try to help them find elements on the menu they like, and we build a dish around that, or if they're feeling adventurous, we can just make something for them. I've never had anyone dislike those dishes. They're usually blown away. At a lot of places, people come in and say they're vegetarian, and the server kind of scoffs, and their vegetarian dishes end up being something like noodles and cheese. Here, it's the chef's job to make amazing dishes, and you can't serve foie gras with every dish. That's the idea we're trying to showcase, and the cocktails are just something fun and complementary to go along with that.
What's something people would be surprised to know about you?
I just started reading George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London. I had been looking for a copy for a while. Also, I love my job. I don't want to sound corny, but I do. All my friends have regular jobs, sitting in offices. There's something I love about being able to get up, have a whole day, go to the gym. We had a late dinner last night, so I woke up and was reading Orwell, then I had some lunch, and I was hanging out and Labyrinth came on, and I was like, "I haven't seen that in forever! David Bowie's awesome!" Then you come into work, and all the people here are cool, and I get to talk to a lot of people that I wouldn't talk to if I was in a little box like my friends.