The tender: Lexi Huckaby
The bar: DiVerti Bar & Grill (4 E. University Dr., 480-284-5972)
The pedigree: Huckaby's father worked for an oil company, so the family moved a lot -- she lived in Brazil, Dubai, Egypt, London, Bangkok and Turkey before turning 15. A "traveling bartender" for the past four years, she's also jumped from place to place in the U.S., having worked in Texas and Michigan before coming to Arizona. She was brought on board at DiVerti three weeks after it opened, and is now bar manager.
Which of the countries you lived in was your favorite?
Egypt, for sure. I was there for three-and-a-half years, and that was the longest I'd lived anywhere before coming to the United States, and when I came to U.S. nobody liked me. That was in high school. Everybody's just so mean! I guess behind the bar it's like everybody loves me.
What was it like to bounce around the world like that?
I think it's the reason I move around so much right now. I'm used to moving and being the new girl and doing new things. When I moved to Arizona, I moved here from Michigan. I went from Texas to Michigan before that, thinking I would do my tour de USA, starting at the top in Michigan and moving my way down. I froze my ass off. I showed up in Michigan with a backpack full of booty shorts and tank tops. It was not pretty. I was there for two years, and I just kind threw a dart at the map and thought, "Well, there's Arizona. I'll go there next and maybe move somewhere else."
When did you realize you wanted to be a bartender?
I went to Texas A&M for early childhood education. But as soon as I started bartending, I just got this light. It was amazing. It wasn't about the money. At the end of the day, I just thought, "I know nothing about the United States; I need to travel." And everybody needs a bartender, right?
Are you getting the itch to leave again?
I get the itch to move, but something about this bar calms me. I've worked here for 8, 9 months, and felt like it was the only thing worth staying for. It's a good place. The owners are just like family -- better than family. Tom's a way better dad than I've ever had.
So why the food industry?
Instant gratification. You don't wait for a paycheck to know that you've done something right. You wait five minutes for someone to tell you you're amazing. People in this industry get pissed about verbal tips, but to me, I get so much pride from someone telling me I'm amazing. Somebody might say, "Hey, I don't have a lot money, but I'd really like another beer." Hey, three bucks, another beer, no tip; tip me by coming back. I can name four people sitting at the bar right now I've done that for that have come back and given me a fat tip, and I'll never lose them as a friend or a customer. I don't have a Facebook because I have friends all over the world and from all the bars.
What do you drink when you go out?
Beer. Beer and Rumple Minze. A Budweiser bottle and a double shot of Rumple Minze is like my special thing. Ask anyone here.
I don't usually hear about people drinking Rumple Minz on the regular.
Well, yeah. It's a hundred-proof peppermint liqueur. Not everyone can hang!
What's your least favorite part of the job?
Negative people. Not necessarily customers, but employees. It sounds stupid, because a service industry job is typically a job for college kids, high school kids and people who are trying to do bigger and better things. But for me, it's my life. I care about it; it's my reputation. So it's hard for me to say that's my negative -- people who don't appreciate it as much as I do -- but at the same time, it's still your job. So come in, hang your shit up on the invisible coat rack, and do your job.
Your real name is Alexa. Why do you go by Lexi?
It came from preschool teaching. They called me Miss Alexa. I had 22 four- and five-year-olds in my class. They would always have such a hard time with the x and l, for some reason. They just did not get it. So I just went by Lexi to make it easier for them, and it just stuck. As I started bartending more and more, I saw that it was just easier for people to say Lexi. Also, a few times behind the bar when I introduced myself as Alexa, people asked me if that was my stage name. Really? So I just went by Lexi. It makes it easier for everyone.
What's the craziest thing you've seen behind the bar?
Not including everything that I do? I kicked a guy out who was probably 6-3, 6-4, huge guy. He hadn't drank anything, but he was super angry. This was in Texas, and I was 19. I was the only person behind the bar at the time, and I was trying to get this guy out of the bar. He ended up picking me up over his head, walking me out of the bar, setting me down, and telling me he would only leave if I would go out with him. I told him absolutely, gave him my number, and went back to work. Of course I gave him the wrong number, but he never came back.
If you could share a drink with anyone in the world, who would it be?
[DiVeriti owner] Tom Coe. He's my idol. Tom has owned his own business since he was 24, which was my age yesterday. He's given me opportunities to do things with my life that I never would have imagined. He gives pure friendship and he has faith in me, and I don't know a lot of people that give out the love, passion and faith that he does. If Tom cares about you, then you're a special person.