Food & Drink

Behind the Bar: Tammy Rhodes of McGillin’s Olde Ale House

You want to go where everybody knows your name. True. But McGillin’s bartender Tammy Rhodes got to know one patron so well, that she took his name.

Tammy met her future husband, construction worker Dusty Rhodes, in the bar about 17 years ago.

“He was a regular on the floor,” Tammy recalls, “but I got him to come up to the bar. He always sat at a table. One of his friends always used to mess around with me, joking, and one day he said to him, you should get her away from her boyfriend. He’s mean to her. Once he came up to the bar, we started talking.”

They haven’t stopped talking since. Three years ago, they were married at City Hall. “January was actually our third anniversary,” Tammy says. “We got married right around the corner, and after that we came back to McGillin’s. When we walked in, my bosses had given all my customers champagne. They were all cheering us. It was really nice.”

Tammy started out at McGillin’s making sandwiches 19 years ago. “I was at another job,” she says. “I had two kids, they were young, and I needed more money. My girlfriend said she and her mom worked there, and I’ve been best friends with her forever. She got me in.

“After that, they offered to start me as a waitress. Then, I went through bartending school, so they started me training on the bar. Once I was done training, the bartender that was there quit, and then it became my job.”

We asked her a few more questions about her life behind the bar.

What do you serve most often?

I’m more just beer and shots and vodka tonics.

What do you sell least often?

I don’t sell a lot of fancy drinks unless it’s our specialty drinks, like our pumpkin martini. But during the day, it’s usually nothing fancy.

What’s your favorite drink to make?

I like making our specialty drinks. We do something different every season. We make them up, so that’s pretty interesting.

What’s your least favorite drink to make?

I don’t like making frozen drinks. I hate blenders. It’s not just me. I think every bartender hates them.

What do you like about being a bartender?

You get to meet different people. You see the different sides of everybody. I’ve made a lot of friends over the years. Even though they’re customers, they become friends, too. And the staff, too. We’re like family here.

You can find McGillin’s where it’s been since 1860, at 1310 Drury Street in Philadelphia.

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