Bartender Interview: Ryan Birke
Hillcrest is the heart of San Diego's gay nightlife scene and for nearly three decades Flicks Bar has been at its center. The bar has gone through some changes recently, including a change of ownership. A fresh start for the bar and a new venture for owner Jeff Jackson, who invites you to come see what's new this New Year .
Whether it's for a cocktail with friends, a game of pool or to catch the big game on one of the bar's many HD televisions, Jeff invites you to come by and enjoy the new Flicks. When you do, chances are you'll catch Ryan Birke serving up drinks on Tuesday and Sunday afternoons and Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday nights. Ryan moved to San Diego a couple years ago after growing up in Long Island, New York and like many of us, loves the Southern California sunshine and the abundance of year- round outdoor activities it has to offer.
We caught up with Ryan to talk about his favorite things at Flicks and to find out about the exciting new additions taking place at the Hillcrest land- mark.
So Ryan, tell us some of your favorite things about being a bartender.
I'm a people person. I love making different drinks and interacting with customers and making them feel welcome. I hate going to bars and feeling like I'm inconveniencing the bartender by being there. I enjoy the customers at Flicks the most, my regulars are awesome, I love coming to work and getting to hang out with them for the night.
How long have you been working at Flicks?
I've been bartending at Flicks for a little over a year.
Flicks is going through some exciting changes, what are the high points?
The most noticeable change at Flicks, besides the newly painted exterior, are the drink prices-we've lowered them on everything we sell. We're also get- ting a face-lift over the next year or two-I can't wait to see the end result. New interior paint, lighting and rearranging of things will go down; it's going to look great!
There's something else at Flicks that's different, Jeff Jackson the new owner.
Yes, Jeff is one of the best guys I know... and I'm not just saying that because he's my boss. He really cares about every single person who comes into Flicks; he's around most nights hanging out and getting to know everyone. He treats his staff as equals and really wants to make Flicks the institution it used to be.
Tell us about some of your favorite events at Flicks.
My favorite is our new Club Flicker on Thursday nights with no cover charge; we've got DJ John Joseph spinning on stage and really hot go-go dancers on the bar-it's been a blast so far! There hasn't been much to do on a Thursday night in Hillcrest, so this is the perfect addition.
What do you like to do when you're not working, in your free time?
Free time? Ha! When I do get some down time, I love trying new restaurants and bars-I have a passion for food and love to eat!
What would you say are some of your best qualities?
I am lively, outgoing, kind and a good listener.
Tell us something surprising to know about you.
I think people would be surprised to know that I ride a five-foot tall unicycle. No joke.
Any hopes or wishes for 2013?
Flicks is located at 1017 University Avenue in Hillcrest. For more information, call 619.297.2056 or visit sdflicks.com.