Pat Lynch has worked full-time for five years at the Harbor Room, 117 E. Greenfield Ave., and for another three years at other bars before that. The Harbor Room is a comfortable Walker's Point bar with a nice patio, cold Guinness (and many other beers) on tap and a great happy hour special: 2-for-1 on everything in the bar along with free pizza.
And according to its website, shirtless men drink half price anytime.
Lynch is exceedingly friendly, the kind of bartender who makes people feel comfortable right away. He's talkative, quick with orders and he doesn't forget a face.
Lynch is the "happy hour guy" at the Harbor Room and prefers his usual day shift, but he has been been putting in a lot of nights training new bartenders.
We stopped in on a sweltering weekday afternoon for a chat and a Guinness (OK, two. They were buy-one, get-one!) And despite extremely high, early summer temperatures, no one removed a shirt during this interview.
OnMilwaukee.com: What do you like about working at the Harbor Room?
Pat Lynch: I work here because it's a fun place, but mostly I'm here because of the people, especially my regulars. I like meeting all kinds of different people. I'm the happy hour guy – I work from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Lately I've been working nights to train new bartenders in. But usually I'm the Jägermeister guy and I'm a dice player, so I make Jäger Bombs a lot, serve up free pizza and play dice with the customers all day.
OMC: Why are Jäger Bombs so popular?
PL: Because I like to drink them, I promote them and get other people to drink them. Jägermeister should pay me. (Laughs.)
OMC: What advice are you giving the new bartenders?
PL: I say, like (Harbor Room owner) Gregg Fitzpatrick said to me when I started, "This ain't a church." Mostly I'm showing people where things are and that stuff, and teach them about the regulars.
OMC: Do you ever have to cut people off? And if so, how do you do it?
PL: Oh, several times a week. People know me here. It's a lot easier when people know you; they never complain.
OMC: Have you ever cleaned up puke?
PL: No, thank God, but I've cleaned up blood from a fight once. Only one fight in five years – that's not bad.
OMC: What's annoying about your job?
PL: We get some bad seeds once in a while, but they're the ones who leave permanently. It's a rarity that I kick people out.
OMC: What do you feel about the smoking ban? Are you a smoker?
PL: I don't smoke, but at first I thought it was wrong. Now I don't go home smelling like cigarettes and finding butts everywhere. I love it.
OMC: What do you do when you're not at work?
PL: That's a good question. When am I not at work? (Laughs.) Well, I just started fishing again. I was too busy before – last year I was especially too busy – but I've been fishing since I was a kid.
OMC: What's your favorite fishing spot?
PL: It used to be a hidden quarry at 68th Street and Loomis, but it's not too hidden anymore since they put a bike path in nearby. I'm always looking for a good fishing spot.
OMC: How's business during Pride Fest?
PL: People will come during the parade on Sunday. I haven't noticed an increase other than that.
OMC: Boot Camp (another Walker's Point gay bar) just burned down. Has that affected business at all?
PL: Later at night, a lot of their customers have started coming here now. But I usually work happy hour, so I haven't met many of them yet.
OMC: Circus (a new gay, burlesque night club on Barclay Avenue) just opened last week. Do you have any thoughts on your newest Walker's Point neighbor?
PL: I haven't been there yet. I heard from some of my customers that it wasn't going that good.
OMC: What kind of music do you like to hear while you're tending bar?
PL: I play blues and Motown in the afternoon. Around 5 or 6 p.m., I start playing modern music like Madonna and Lady Gaga because it's what people like.
OMC: What's the craziest thing you've seen in a bar?
PL: (Laughs) I've seen a lot of things! How can I keep this clean ... let me think about it. (Comes back from pouring a tap.) Once a lady was doing cocaine on the back bar; I had never seen her before. I asked her what she thought she was doing and she starts cussing me out. (Laughs again.) That's a tame one. But bizarre.
OMC: In your opinion, what's the best city in the world for gay nightlife?
PL: I haven't been around much, but Milwaukee is pretty good I think. People say Chicago. When I'm not working, I hang out in straight bars. Because I know a lot of people and go to bars a lot, I want to go where I don't know a lot of people.