The clientele at Jo-Cat's, 1311 E. Brady St., is as diverse as the East Side neighborhood that surrounds the bar.
It's not unusual to see college students, lawyers, judges, East Side artists and even pro athletes mingling in a place where the vibe always seems friendly and welcoming.
And that's no accident.
"We're a very low-key place," says Jeno Cataldo, whose family has owned the business for more that 30 years. "We want everybody to feel welcome here. We make it a point to have our bartenders greet every customer that walks through the door.
"No matter how busy you are, you can always say 'hi' to someone when they walk in. If you don't, you won't be working here very long."
For Melissa, one of several popular bartenders at Jo-Cat's, that's not a problem. We caught up to the effervescent mixologist during a recent shift for this OnMilwaukee.com bartender profile:
OMC: How long have you been bartending?
MELISSA: Four years. I worked here for two years and before that I worked at Baby Boomers, a bar on the South Side.
OMC: What is your signature drink?
MELISSA: I'd have to say a Bacardi Peach Red with Red Bull and cranberry juice. It's very good.
OMC: What's your least favorite drink to make?
MELISSA: Probably martinis. We don't get a lot people ordering those in here, though.
OMC: What's the most ridiculous thing you've seen a drunk patron do?
MELISSA: That is tough because there have been so many. I've seen some nudity. I've seen a lot of ridiculous things. I saw a fight once with about 40 people that spilled into the street. That was ridiculous.
OMC: Have you ever broken up a fight?
MELISSA: A few. The ones I get involved with are usually girls trying to fight with guys.
OMC: What's the most ridiculous pickup line you've ever heard?
MELISSA: I've heard them all. I know I just heard one the other day and I can't remember it. I even called the guy out on it. I told him that was the worst line I've ever heard. Now I can't remember it. It's going to bug me that I can't remember it.
OMC: What's your favorite part of bartending?
MELISSA: The action. The crowds of people. We have really good customers in here and it's usually a lot of fun.
OMC: What's your least favorite part of the job?
MELISSA: My least favorite is when everyone in here is really, really drunk and I'm sober. That makes it tough when you've worked a long day. Like on New Year's Eve, by the end of it, you just want to get away from people and go home.
OMC: What establishments do you frequent when you aren't working?
MELISSA: I go to a lot of places, but we definitely always start here and end up here. It's a great place.
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.