Dave Thorfinnson at Taps Signature Cuisine and Bar

Across the street from the Wigwam Golf Resort and down from the perfectly-manicured lawns of Litchfield Park, Taps Signature Cuisine and Bar (76 N. Old Litchfield Rd., 623-935-2037) is at the ready with a drink.

Specifically, Dave Thorfinnson -- or Thor, as he is lovingly called by many of his customers -- is there to serve, whether you've arrived by golf cart or not.

Built like a dark-haired viking and clearly down for a good time, Thorfinnson is quick to put a drink in your hand and introduce you to a couple of his buddies sitting at the bar. Before you know it, it feels like you've been playing golf and knocking back drinks with these guys for years.

General manager and bartender Thorfinnson has let his easygoing attitude run the West Valley establishment since its opening two years ago.

"I love the fact that people like the place. It makes it more worth it to work hard," Thorfinnson says. "At first, it was tough and the food was really not good, but people kept coming in - and keep coming in."

How did you get into bartending?
I started back in high school as a bar back, bouncer, and eventually got into a little bartending at Bobby McGee's. I moved on to college and other career opportunities, including real estate which went well until 2005. I just went back to my happy days of bartending. I enjoy people and the atmosphere is always fun.

How'd you get to Taps?
Kevin Elliott. We used to play tennis together at the Wigwam. When I was struggling with real estate, Kevin knew my history in the restaurant industry and asked me to come help run Taps. I thought it was going to be a lot more fun, and never thought it was going to be as much work as it is. I thought, cool, we'll open a Cheers and it will be easy. It's a lot more work than I imagined and whether it's the health department or the fire department, there are a lot of little things I never thought about.

What do you like most about bartending?
All the people you get to meet. I enjoy meeting new people and listening to them. I'm there every once in a while to lift their spirits... or just give them a drink.

What is your least favorite thing about bartending?
The hours are rough sometimes. But if you're single it's alright; I get to sleep in and play golf, watch my friends have a good time and have a couple with them after work.

Do you have any training in mixology?
No, everything I know is from my past experiences. It's all hands-on training. You can go to school and they are just going to teach you what you could be learning behind the bar.

How often do you play bartender outside of Taps?
People ask me to make drinks at parties and I like it. I'm there to make sure people have a good time and make sure they like the drink - and they will.

What's your favorite kind of customer?
Somebody that comes in who isn't depressed but is looking to have a better time than they've had all day or all week. And it doesn't matter if they are there for a drink or just eating, I can help them have a blast and forget about yesterday. And cute never hurts.

How do you think your location in Litchfield Park affects your business and clientele?
It's good and bad. We're off the beaten path, so we don't get very many, "Oh, hey look! Let's go here" - you have to know where we're at. On the other hand, we have loyal Litchfield Park customers and word of mouth. They tell their friends and we get a good clientele coming in. We never have fights at Taps, and rarely do we have a major issue. That's the thing about Litchfield Park: it's safe. We have a really nice neighborhood here. And it doesn't hurt that the cops are a block away.

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Kelly Green