Behind the Bar with Kaiti Cooke

Discussing the details of a life behind bars with one of the borough’s best-know faces.

photos ERIK WEBER @westchesterviews
interview DAN MATHERS @danielkmathers

How long have you been at Barnaby’s? I think it will be four years in August.

What brought you in? I transferred to West Chester, and my roommate, Colleen Shanahan, worked at Barnaby’s — she helped get me in. I started as a server and moved to bartending after I turned 21.

When you say you transferred, I assume you mean college? Yes. I did one and a half years at Delco, then transferred to West Chester University, and I graduated from there in May.

What’s your degree? I majored in communications and minored in media and culture studies.

Is that something you were able to apply to your job as a bartender? Definitely. Michael Gallen, the owner, asked me to run our Instagram account promoting our specials and giveaways. I was taking courses that were about content creation and branding, and it was cool to use what I was learning in the classroom and apply that at work. My studies focused on strategic social media, so it was great to be able to use Barnaby’s accounts to reach out, then see people come into Barnaby’s and have it come full circle.

What made you switch to bartending? Back when I was serving, daytime bartender Drew Shiomos would always teach us and show us what he was doing. I also liked how it was a completely different shift, and it’s just a more fun environment, and you get to meet a lot of people — you’re doing your job but also having fun.

Are you still on the day shift? No. I work Thursday 6:30pm-2am, as well as Friday and Saturday nights.

So, the busiest shifts. I enjoy being busy. My job is fun, but if you’re not busy, it can be boring, and you’re just standing there. Being busy makes the time go faster.

What’s your best shift? Thursdays are all-day $2 Miller Lite and Highlife bottles, and from 10pm-12am we have $2 mixed drinks, and almost every Thursday we have some sort of giveaway — things like Flyers, Eagles or Sixers tickets and jerseys, and we always have a live band. Thursday nights are a big happening night at Barnabys, and I’m there, so it’s a good time.

What’s something your regulars would be surprised to learn about you? Most people don’t know my real name is Kaiti. The manager when I started here knew me as KT, and so that’s my name in the system, and at the bottom of your check, it says “Your server was KT,” and so people who come in a lot know me as that.

What makes Barnaby’s special? I would say the fact that we have seven different bars, and you can walk into different rooms and find completely different vibes. You could hit the dance floor upstairs, then come downstairs and find more relaxed music, or head outside. It’s like going to a different bar without leaving the building.