Drinks to go are usually not a bar thing. It’s pretty common to see signs near the door that say, “No Alcohol Beyond This Point.” At this bar, though, those signs are missing, and people taking drinks to their rooms is an everyday event. That’s one of the many things that make a hotel bar different than other bars.
But since I no longer work there, visiting the bar is acceptable.
The bar is usually populated by business people relaxing after a long day of work or travel. Sometimes it’s a visiting baseball team celebrating a win over the Fresno Grizzlies, or concert goers enjoying a nightcap after a show at the convention center next door. When a religious group is hosting a retreat at the hotel, often the bar’s business goes down (though they make it up a bit with drinks ordered through room service).
We went on a Tuesday night, and the bar was full, so we sat at one of the tables. I knew the bar staff: Brandon was tending bar and Kasandra was waiting tables. In the past, we’d often chatted as their shifts ended and mine began.
Though they were busy, but Kasandra and Brandon took time to answer the two questions we always ask at bars, “What makes for a good bar?” and “Whether you go or not, what would make for a good church?”
After serving us our drinks, Kasandra said, “I think you need an attentive staff. People who can talk about anything.” Servers in a bar may need to discuss a wide range of topics, from what there is to do in town to the game playing on the TV. (By the way, sadly, the Oakland A’s were not playing well on the TV). She added that a bar should be, “Clean with good stock, an assortment for everybody.”
As for what makes for a good church, she said, “Acceptance. You want to walk in and be with other people on their spiritual journeys, not judging or shaming. And love that isn’t just a front, but you can feel it.”
He explained that a hotel bar is different from a neighborhood bar. In a hotel bar, the travelers are often business people who, if they want to have a conversation, have to be willing to talk to strangers. “At this bar, there are people from all over the country, from all over the world.”
O’Douls or a soda.
It took time to get Brandon to answer the second question, primarily because he was busy. I asked for one word for what made for a good church. He said “acceptance.” (I’m pretty sure he didn’t overhear Kasandra.) He said these days you have to understand other people’s beliefs, but everyone shares the same core values, they’re just expressed differently.