Student by Day, Bartender by Night

Graduating junior Kristen Vaganos is a bartender at Campeón, a Spanish sports bar on 16th

What are the chances the person pouring your drink at your local bar is a fellow student?

In this city, it seems as if there are endless job opportunities for students — many of whom make their extra bucks doing odd, bizarre and unique jobs. We talked to two students who ditch their book bags for shakers at night and work on the other side of the counter.

Most NYU students who come to Durden are there to enjoy the cheap beer and dance on tables if it gets rowdy enough, but Stern sophomore Eli Hulse is more in his element behind the bar.

The Vermont native, who was hired by Durden in January, said he likes bartending for the time being. Hulse has worked at two bars before Durden but wanted to experience working at a college bar.


“It’s a fun job, and if I wasn’t working here right now, where would I be?” Hulse said. “Either at another bar or sleeping, so I might as well be working.”

On a relaxed Monday night, Hulse pours drinks for his regulars, some of whom frequent Durden several times a week. He appreciates returning customers and finds that he gets better tips on calm nights like this one. Although one may think he’d walk away with more money, Hulse said that this is definitely not the case.

“NYU kids don’t tip,” he said.

Hulse said that there are perks to being the only single male bartender on staff, and on some nights, he ends up having even more fun than the patrons. According to him, perks include getting to see who’s hooking up with whom after too many Fireball shots.

“Sometimes you see people you know hooking up at the end of the night,” Hulse said. “I see it all, but I’ll never say anything. But if I see them in class, I’m just thinking like, ‘I know.’”

It may be a stereotype for an actor to work as a bartender at night, but Tisch senior Kristen Vaganos believes that there’s good reason for it.

“It really is a convenient side job for actors. I plan on still doing it in Los Angeles after I graduate this semester — I can do it at nights when I have auditions during the day,” Vaganos said.

Having worked at Campeon in Union Square for a little over a year, Vaganos describes it as a great way to save money for post-grad life, but not something she sees herself doing in the long haul. Vaganos balances her midnight shifts at the bar with a strenuous academic schedule and acting roles on the weekends.

Campeon, which has over 50 TVs and prides itself on being the “home of the 80-inch flat screen,” is a hub for sports lovers, especially soccer fans.

“Whatever game is on really dictates how well we do that night,” Vaganos said. ”If it’s an Ecuadorian or a Spanish team that night, we’ll be packed. But it’s still pretty calm.”

Vaganos has built strong relationships with her regulars, and she likes it that way.

“Our regulars are basically friends of ours at this point,” Vaganos said. “You can just hang out, get good tips and have fun conversations, rather than pretending I’m interested in some random person. And if they’re nice, they can get free drinks.”

But for all her friendly regular customers, there are inevitably the not-so-nice ones. Luckily, Vaganos says that no one gets away with being disrespectful towards their bartender at Campeon.

“People are rude sometimes, especially if they’re drunk,” Vaganos said. “Sometimes they’ll say, ‘Hey beautiful!’ when they want a drink. I’ll go over there and tell them, ‘My name is Kristen. Now what can I get you?’ I won’t put up with it, and I’m not afraid to tell customers not to say something.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Dec. 5 print edition. E-mail Camille Larkins at [email protected]



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