Meet the Bartender: Luke Watson

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Name: Luke Watson
Bar: Clementines
Hometown: Well I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else, so Harrisonburg. I grew up in Northern [New] Jersey until I was eight and then I moved to Richmond.
Fun fact: I was conceived on acid.

Q: Why bartending?
A: It’s fun, it’s social, it’s different every time, and there’s good money in it. Serving is fun, it has similar elements, but bartending – it’s your space and you control the flow and it’s just a lot of fun.

Q: How long have you been doing so?
A: Well, I went to bartending school a while back, but didn’t really get to apply it until this past fall. But I’ve been working here since May 2009, started in the kitchen then I started serving then I started managing. I mostly manage, but I do bartend about 8 or 10 times a month.

Q: Why Harrisonburg?
A: Well, I came to JMU in ’01 and then started working downtown in ’07. I just immediately loved it. The people, the music, and there was a lot going on without being on the grid. Most people outside of Harrisonburg, or outside of JMU, don’t really know Harrisonburg. We have a lot of people coming through Harrisonburg that stop by here who are surprised when they see how much is actually going on. I like that aspect of it. That it’s not a hotspot, but there’s plenty going on for the people that are here.

Q: Favorite part about being a bartender?
A: The people, and it’s not necessarily just customers. It’s also my fellow bartenders, my serving staff, it’s everything. It’s creative, you got to think on the fly, you got to be quick and the same time you got to step up and put out fires or kick people out.

Q: Favorite beer?
A: It changes quite often. Right now I like ambers and reds, kind of middle of the road, very drinkable. Bell’s is really good, Peak Organic makes a good one. Actually, I like ESBs as well, not too many people make them. Red Hook has one and there’s a local ESB. Yeah, not too hoppy, not too malty.

Q: Favorite thing on the menu at Clementines?
A: Food wise probably the ramen. I grew up on Asian cuisine, my mom is Japanese. We spend over 12 hours on our broth, so it’s one of the more time consuming dishes and you taste it. The broth is killer, the noodles are on point. It has duck in it. It has a poached egg in it. It’s just all around a great dish.

Q: Tell us a memorable story from your time at Clementines.
A: Well I was working on the line with my buddy Darren and it was MacRock weekend and one of our favorite bands Heavy Cream was playing. It’s a three-piece, all girls, hard band. We were in bloody aprons and were like let’s do this, and we stage-dived on the clock during MacRock weekend. People still come up to us and ask us about it. So that was good.
There’s plenty, man. If you work in a good restaurant that has a lot going on music wise, art wise and food wise interesting things will happen.

Q: When you’re not at work you’re doing what?
A: I have a two-year-old daughter now so it’s mostly that. But I’m also starting a food truck. Now that the weather is getting nicer I spend as much time as I can on that. It’s tedious, especially because I have very little funding. I’m doing each step myself with help from friends that are knowledgeable with either plumbing or electrical work. So that’s been five years in the making, but it’s sitting in my backyard. Shooting to be open by May 18 for an event for a homeless shelter down here at the pavilion. So outside of work, daughter and food truck. I love live music, that keeps me going. Books, any kind of interesting, original funny media. I’m on Reddit quite a bit.

Q: Favorite song?
A: That’s very fluid too, that changes all the time. Right now, it’s something by either Ween or Minute Men. I’ve liked them for a long time but I always re-visit them from time-to-time.

Q: Movie?
A: Big Lebowski.

Q: If you could go anywhere, where would it be?
A: I’d like to go back to Japan. I was born there, but I was only there a couple months. Other than that, South America, Africa – I’m not too into the whole Europe thing for some reason. I’m sure it’s great, but, yeah.