Behind the Bar

Talking with Keith Moss, Superfine bartender

Stop by Superfine's Sunday bluegrass brunch, and your spicy bloody mary will undoubtedly be concocted by Keith Moss, owner of one of the finest, most beautifully-maintained handlebar mustaches we've ever seen. (No really, it verges on the Dali-esque. Ask to touch it.) We talk with the 36-year-old bartender about the alarming development of DUMBO, celebrity bartender ego, and the lure of the free pool table.

You know, I always consider Superfine "the bar" of DUMBO. Someone else called it the City Hall of DUMBO. These girls, the owners, have been here for 14 years.

Lots of changes in 14 years. It's a little scary. Superfine's going with the flow, of course. I mean, it's great for everybody, everybody's making more money. But at the same time, it's been sad to see DUMBO losing its bohemian style. It's still here, but you can see that it's starting to get lost in the shuffle. I've been making more martinis and cosmos. We have a lot of people hanging out in suits sitting in our bar. That was never our thing.

Who else can afford the lofts though? This building next door is not even built yet, and they've already sold every space available. The offices are across the street. When they went up for sale, people were camping out overnight, there was literally a line of about 20 people sleeping outside. We were like, what?!

Just to get the apartment? Yes.

Because when these go up, you think, are people actually buying these? They are. This is going to be, like, 26 stories next door.

How much is rent? They're to buy. I know studios were starting at $900,000 in this building over here. One-bedrooms I imagine are 1 1/2 million. It's unbelievable.

Do you notice any difference between your old and new clientele, other than the way they're dressed? I can't explain it without being rude. Ha, ha. They're a little posher. They don't really expect better service, but I feel like . . . they do. They want to sit and order a filet and have a $14 martini.

Those are different kinds of restaurants though . . . Right, and we're gay-owned. I mean, all the women owners are gay. So we're not really a gay bar, but we got the flavor of everything here. So another thing too, when you see guys hitting on those women, you're like, wow, this is not at all what this bar started out as.

You don't work weekend nights. But wouldn't you make more tips on the weekend? Well, that's the thing. It's hit or miss. It's all the amateurs. I can make the same amount of money as a full bar with 10 of my regulars. Instead of being thrown a buck a beer.

Of course, there are those bartenders who are like celebrities themselves . . . My ex Cliff, who works at Excelsior, would say "false celebrity." You can work in these big clubs, and you got a hot bartender, and they hook up a lot of people and a lot of people know them. But once you leave the bar and that element . . .

Have you ever seen a bartender that wouldn't let it go? Like c'mon, you've left the bar? It can turn on you. You've got to be careful with the power. It's stupid to even call it power, but you actually do.

Any poor experiences you've had with customers? I had someone come back behind my bar because he couldn't get around to talk to one of his friends. I literally almost picked him up and threw him out. I was in his face, screaming at him. I was just like, don't EVER. Anyone's bar, not just my bar. You respect all bars.

Ever had to get physical with anyone? Yeah, I've used it here. Broken up some fights, thrown some people out. It's the free pool table. Everytime. It's always the free pool table. They're like kids.

 
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