I just returned from a brief trip to Easy Bar on Lakeshore Avenue. I don't frequent the establishment, but time-removed from the opening-day episode where it seemed that the White male bartender employees were being way too macho with their patrons of color, including yours truly, I gradually went back to the place.
Easy's got a nice decor and I have personally felt that it's good to support Oakland business, rather than jaunt over to San Francisco. Plus, I had a programming assignment, finished it early, went shopping late, and figured, what the heck, I'll give Easy a try and go home and get some sleep.
Well, I walked in sat down, and waited. And then I waited. And then I elected to give a glance and one of the two White make bartenders finally came over and took my order and made the cocktail.
After about 10 minutes of looking at a high movie screen, I had an idea for a political fundraiser that I could do there. So, even though I know the owner's on my Linkedin network, I decided to ask the bartender there. I asked the person who made the cocktail for me, who then said he had to talk to the other bartender because he didn't know what the policy for renting Easy out was. So he goes over and they talked, and then nothing -- no response. The guy he talked to didn't even come over. He just kept doing his "work" - which included pouring shots for himself.
So I gave a glance after another 10 minutes of waiting -- think about that: 10 minutes -- and the guy who was being a total jerk came over and said "What's your question."
Now lets pause for a moment.
There are two ways to look at this situation, neither of which is good. First, the person dismissed my question for some reason and explained that reason to the other bartender. Now, I don't know either one of them and have never seen them before. I'm not a regular at Easy.
The other way is even equally sinister: he got the fact that I had a question, but didn't know the question and wasnt interested in anything I had to say so he dismissed me. Period.
Until I used eye-contact to press the matter.
When he finally came over and asked "What's your question?" I told him, and without asking what I wanted to do, just said "We don't rent out the place for private events, but we can give you a booth." Then he walked away quickly.
My plan was a political fundraiser that included showing a movie. But he never asked.
Plus, his statement was just to get rid of me.
At that point, my blood ran cold and I thought "Here we go again."
So I asked to speak with the bartender again. More waiting. Finally, he came over and I asked his name.
"Brian", he said. "Brian what?" I asked. "Just Brian" was his response.
I then explained that the owner's in my Linkedin network and I'll bring this to his attention. Brian said "Look. Don't give me a lecture.."
At that point, I got up and said "This is over. I'm leaving," and left the cocktail I ordered 90 percent full, got up and walked out. I got home to the computer and wrote what you're reading now.
I've had it.
I did nothing wrong and didn't deserve to be treated that way, and yet the only reason I was is because I'm Black and male and Easy has an annoying habit of hiring the occasional White male bartenders who have race issues, especially with Black men.
Personally, I like Easy, but this guy Brian's got to go. I'm totally sick to my stomach and 100 percent TIRED of people like him. They have no place in Oakland, and should leave, or at least not work at any establishment like Easy. Let Brian go and do the neighborhood a favor; his bartender partner -- to be sure -- was just fine. But the great service I got from him was totally offset by Brian. Maybe he was already toasted from the shots he had, but that's no excuse for the totally irresponsible and apparently racist treatment he gave me.
Say what you will, but I will not tolerate that at all. Forget it. I've seen other bartenders treat some of the Black patrons there in an "indifferent" way, but they take it; not me. I'll not stand for that one bit, and I don't care who whines about "the race card", as that's B.S. I'll not tolerate this crap any longer.
As you can tell, I'm pissed.
In fact, Brian turned me off to Easy all over again.
In closing, I'm proud to say that this problem does not reflect Oakland, where I can go to a place like The Stork Club, listen to punk rock music, and feel right at home, me -- Black male, dressed in a suit. While I didn't have a suit on at Easy Lounge, it should not have mattered at all.
That was terrible.
Easy needs to change. Why not female bartenders of various backrounds? Why does Easy have this "type" they hire at present? -- it's not serving them, or the neighborhood, well. Look, some -- OK, two -- of the bartenders, I do like and should remain, but this Brian guy, he's got to get another job.
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