My first job was at Islands Restaurant in Encino, when I was 16 years old. I started as a “floor host” which meant I bussed tables, then moved up to food runner, and finally, server. I loved everything about it, except taking out the trash. I was there for 5 years, then The Cheesecake Factory for another 5 years, where I learned how to tend bar. It was during that time that I graduated from CSUN with my BS in Business. After ten years in the service industry, I was over it, I quit! I vowed never to go back. I burned my white uniform and danced around its ashes. I got a “real job” and like so many others before me, I couldn’t stand it. The hours, the inflexibility…I found myself bartending again a few years later, which eventually led me to tend at a little bar called Off Kilt, which is the bar you now know as The Oaks Tavern.
My way into the bar-owning business was not typical. I was a bartender, then I got offered a partnership if I could dig the bar out of its financial hole. That’s a big jump from bartender to owner. I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into. I cleaned the crap out of the place, brought on new staff, brought in craft beer, upgraded the alcohol selection and got a popcorn machine. I tried new things like live bands, game nights and karaoke. I made sure it didn’t smell like a “bar.” A lot of things didn’t work, but a few did. The bar didn’t make money for a while. It was really tough, I had a second job doing bottle service on the weekends and then I worked as many shifts at The Oaks as I could, to save labor. It was literally a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, the first few years. I almost gave up a few times. Luckily, I had good friends who talked me out of it. Every time I threatened to run away, they wouldn’t let me. Then little by little, it started getting busy. I was able to quit my second job. I had to hire more staff. Three years ago I was able to stop bartending! Flash forward another to 2019 and I was able to buy The Parlour Room with two of my bartenders and friends- Jenny and Teri, who you will read about below. It’s exciting and terrifying all at the same time.
I’m a California native, born and raised in the Santa Clarita Valley. My dad believed in having a strong work ethic and taught me that I had to work hard for what I wanted. He was the kind of guy, that when I called him because by car broke down on railroad tracks, he’d say “well you better get out and push, girl!” (Not kidding, that really happened). My first job was working at a paintball field on the weekends when I was only fifteen years old. I despised it, but it taught me that working for your paycheck isn’t as easy or as glamorous as you think when you’re a kid. Things got better from there and at sixteen I landed my first restaurant job at BJ’s Brewery as a hostess. I spent high school working my way up through hostess, delivery driver and expeditor until I turned 18 and became a restaurant server. The BJ’s crew was like a family to me, we did everything together. I worked for them for five years where I learned much about running a full service restaurant and bar from a corporate standpoint. That job supported me through college and I was heartbroken when I had to leave my store when I moved to Thousand Oaks. Since then I have had multiple families at different restaurant and bars where I’ve worn many different hats; bartender, event coordinator, social media marketing and manager. I’ve done fine dining at fancy country clubs, and served fishbowls at dive bars.
My first job was at McDonalds when I was 16, it wasn’t a great job but it taught me work ethic and corporate mentality. Then at 21 I was a “dessert girl” at Victoria Station, Universal City, where I would break the bartender, which is when I found a curiosity and love for bartending. Life changed directions for a while and I was the owner/operator of a trucking company for Airborne Express/DHL for 20 years. With my partner Lisa Hite, we started the business with 5 trucks and built it to 50 trucks and 60 employees! After DHL let go of all their contractors across the United States, Lisa and I ran a freight forwarding company for a few years until I realized I needed a change. I wanted to do something fun, so I returned to my first love which was bartending. I am presently bartending at The Oaks Tavern and Universal Bar & Grill where I also work as an entertainment booker.
After eight years behind the bar, about to have an empty nest, with my twin girls going off to college, I find myself in a position to invest in my own bar. It’s exciting to be able to secure a future for myself and my children. Owning my own bar and running my own business again is a dream come true!