Bartender Tips: Chelsea Pub’s 
Gia Rivero

By Ray Schweibert
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Nov. 14, 2012

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Gia Rivero

Honing a reputation 
as a good bartender certainly hinges on the ability to memorize the ingredients to a wide variety of drinks, but ask the average patron on the other side of the taps what matters most and you’ll realize there’s much more to it than that.

An outgoing personality and understanding demeanor are key components to the job, as are accountability and attentiveness to customer service. These are qualities Gia Rivero, a 27-year-old lifelong Ventnor Heights resident, possesses in abundance, and ones that have entrusted her to employers past and present, including her current post as bartender — for roughly the past five years — at an Atlantic City linchpin among the locals, the Chelsea Pub.

“I’ve been around here most of my life,” says the 2003 Atlantic City High School grad. “I started waitressing at Chili’s in Mays Landing. I was there for a while and I guess they thought I was doing a good job, so one day they asked me ‘Hey, how about if we throw you behind the bar?’ I thought sure, so I learned all the basic drinks and all their crazy margarita concoctions — this, that and the other thing that they make there — and I really enjoyed it.”

Rivero and her boyfriend were frequent patrons at the 24/7 Chelsea Pub, and on a whim she asked Jeannine Conway, the pub’s 32-year co-owner with her husband Jack (and manager of the 40-room inn above the pub, personally primped by the French-born Jeannine) if there were any employment openings. 

“My boyfriend and I actually had our first couple of dates here,” says Rivero of the pub, located about two blocks in from the beach and near the Tropicana. “I love this place, so I came over and asked if they had any openings. I’m thinking maybe a waitress job, something to get my foot in the door, because there’s no way they’re going to hire me to bartend right away. But the owner asked if I know how to bartend and I said yes. She said I can give you a couple of shifts and just threw me in, telling me ‘I’m sure you’ll do fine.’”

Apparently Rivero did, as that part-time gig evolved into a full time job with benefits. 

“It’s a great place to work — I’m grateful to have Jack and Jeannine as my bosses,” she says. “They make it happy for me to come to work. They gave my mom and brother a room [after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc in Ventnor], and many of the regulars were given rooms at discounted rates while they sorted everything out, while at the same time many other places were price gouging like crazy. They’re honest and hardworking people who make you feel like your input is appreciated. For instance, Jeannine knows I like wine so she’ll often ask me what types of wine do you think people would enjoy? They like to try to keep things fresh and will ask us for our opinions.”

The Conways aren’t the only ones who occasionally ask for input and advice, as the Chelsea Pub bartenders — and probably all bartenders everywhere — are often asked to morph into amateur psychologist mode. 

“One of my regulars, a local guy I’ve known for about 10 years, came in late at night this past weekend all upset,” she says. “He said ‘Gia, you wouldn’t believe what just happened to me 10 minutes ago. My girlfriend and I just split up. Is your Doctor Is In sign up?’ I told him it sure is, let me get you a beer and you can tell me all about it. The guy was all upset and he left here marginally better and not so crazed. I think I got him partially calmed down. Hey, if you can’t trust your bartender, who can you trust?”

Another local named Larry regularly gives Rivero weather reports, knowing she is fretful of thunderstorms. Then there’s a couple of couples who regularly show up — who Rivera fixed up. 

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