The tender: Trent Robertson
The bar: The Vine Tavern (801 E. Apache Blvd., 480-894-2662)
The pedigree: Robertson got his bartending start in Kansas, working mostly, he says, at "Applebee's-type restaurants." A fortuitous coin flip led him to Tempe and the Vine ten years ago, where he's been serving drinks ever since.
How'd you end up here?
Coin flip. My buddy and I were living back in Kansas, and we both didn't really have anything going on, so we flipped a coin between here and Florida. Phoenix won, and I moved out here in the summer of 2001.
The Vine, I mean.
The first apartment I lived in out here was right down the road. We came in here one day to get a couple beers, and I put an application in and ended up getting the job. I just love it here. There are several people who work here who have been here a number of years. I went to school at ASU. It's just hard to leave.
What's changed in the 10 years you've been here?
The Timberwolf was right across the street, the summer I started here was when they knocked down this place called the Dash, Acme used to be right down the road. All that's gone. The biggest change is the amount of student housing that's been going up all around us. A few years ago, all these dorms weren't there. Everything around here is pretty much brand new. Except for this place, the Chevron and Wendy's, everything around here has gone up in the last three years.
Has ASU ever tried to buy you guys out?
I can't speak to that; it's a little above my pay grade.
What do you like most about bartending?
The interaction with the people. We have a lot of regulars who come in and have been coming for years. Some of them when I first started would bring their kids in, and the kids were four, five, six years old. Now they're still bringing them here and they're teenagers. That part's pretty cool. Our regulars come in here to see us; it's more than just coming here to get a beer. They feel comfortable here, and that's why they want to come back.
What do you hate about it?
Cleaning up puke. That's probably the worst thing about this job, but it comes with the territory.
Having been here 10 years, you've obviously seen some wild stuff. What have been some of your most memorable nights here?
The night the Diamondbacks won the world series, that was one of the biggest crowds I've ever seen. Probably the strangest thing I've ever seen: on night during karaoke some guy comes on stage with this plunger, which we used to keep in the bathroom. He lifts the plunger up, pours his beer into the plunger and drinks out of it. That was pretty nasty.
If you weren't bartending, what would you be doing?
I don't know, man. I'd retire. I've been doing it for so long, and I'm happy here.
If you could have a drink with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Dave Matthews! I've seen him in concert a few times, and he just seems like he'd be a cool dude to hang out with. I wouldn't ask him about music because he probably gets that so much.