Sarah Colianni has been tending bar at the Club for about a year now, but it feels longer than that.
“That sounds bad, but I think that’s because of the setting,” she says. “Interacting with people at the Minneapolis Club, I’ve gotten to form better connections with the people who come and sit at the bar compared to other places I’ve worked at. It feels longer just because of how well I’ve gotten to know them.”
Some members say Sarah knows them better than anyone else; she says some consider her a friend. “It feels like family, almost – just making them feel comfortable.”
“It doesn’t feel like I’m doing a job – it just feels like a natural connection. It doesn’t feel like I’m going off a script. It just flows really naturally.”
That natural flow, Colianni says, is informed by both her near-decade in the service industry and her Italian-American upbringing – which, to hear her describe it, comprised a lot of big family dinners and conversation.
“It’s just how I was raised. The whole [Italian] culture is kind of based on hospitality and making everyone feel welcome. You can’t teach hospitality – it’s just ingrained in me.”
Despite that intangibility, she’s had no problem sharing what she knows with other Club food and beverage staff, pulling from her experiences as a barista and mixologist at a number of Twin Cities institutions, including helping to open a distillery in St. Louis Park. At the Club, she’s helped with training materials, process improvement, and more.
“You can’t teach hospitality”
Still, Colianni’s passion for her work lies in the natural connections that occur across the bar, over drinks and between barstaff. “I worked in high-volume restaurants before, where you don’t get as much creativity to experiment,” she says. “That’s one thing I love about my job at the Club: people have the drinks they love, but then sometimes they branch out, and I get to introduce new drinks to them” and experiment with food and beverage staff to create all-new menu options.
Members say Sarah even makes a “trademark” Old Fashioned – one so good, a visitor once said it was the best Old Fashioned he’d had in the USA. Others suggest that it should have its own special name, an idea that gains momentum when she mentions that her recipe includes a secret ingredient.
“I have no idea what to call it,” she says, adding, “If anybody has any suggestions…”
Visit the bar, try Sarah’s signature Old Fashioned, and maybe drop a name into the hat.