Baristas, Bartenders and Bouncers: Mary Cope of Yucca Tap Room

By Jonathan McNamara

You'll have to excuse the lack of a photograph in this edition of Baristas, Bartenders and Boucners. Mary Cope's not too eager to hand out her image. What she will give you while you're enjoying your drink at Yucca Tap Room is an ear full of stories from her 22 years of experience working at the Tempe-based bar and music venue.

Some of her tales involve the kind of infidelity that permeates the most cliche of country songs. One involved a man cheating on his wife in his car parked behind Yucca. The jig was up when unbeknownst to him, he accidentally knocked the car into neutral and it started gliding across parking lot.

Think that's good? Cope's got got a million more just like it. Head into Yucca, order a Tidal Wave and see what other yarns Cope can spin for you.

Valley Fever: How long have you worked for Yucca Tap Room?

Mary Cope: Twenty-two years.

VF: How did you get started in the bar business?

MC: My grandfather got me in the bar business. He was a bar manager in Illinois. He came out here to retire and he still managed the Elk Lodge. That's how I started.

VF: What drew you to Yucca Tap Room?

MC: I use to hang out here and I was dating a guy who use to hang out here all the time.

VF: Let's get to the stories. Have you got a zinger for us?

MC: Well, the best one I've got...and it's a classic. I was working and there was this little old man and he came in. Well when they come in, you don't know how much they've had to drink until you serve them. So I gave him one drink and I could tell he was pretty hammered. So I asked him to leave and he wouldn't leave so we had words and I walked him out the back door. Then about 15 minutes later I'm back here and I'm working and he walks in here [indicates one of two front doors]. He looks at me and I look at him and he turns around and walks out. Five minutes later he walks in this door [other front door]. He looks at me and I look at him and he says, "Do you work at every damn bar in Tempe?"

VF: How long has Yucca Tap Room been doing music?

MC: That's been going on for five years. We really didn't start doing that kind of music until Roger Clyne came along and they were AKA The Refreshments and they use to play here every Sunday night.

VF: Any music-related stories you'd like to share?

MC: I could tell some stories, but I don't want them [musicians] to get mad. I mean not Roger and them, but other bands that are no longer together because they got into fights here and broke up.

VF: What's your favorite drink?

MC: I drink Crown and 7 or Canadian Mist and 7.

VF: What's your favorite drink to serve?

MC: My favorite drink to give is a Tidal Wave.

VF: A Tidal Wave? What's in it?

MC: You take a shot of vodka and a little bit of blue curaco and you chill it and you put it in a rocks glass. And you walk over to the person and say "Isn't it pretty and blue like the ocean? That's why they call it a tidal wave." And when they drink it you take a glass of water and throw it at them. [Laughs]

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