An Interview With Michael Kopczynski
By Steve Gillman
Michael Kopczynski has worked as a bartender at a number of
bars and restaurants around the country. I decided to ask him
specifically about his Margaritaville jobs because I've heard
there are some real benefits, including better pay than the average
bar and a fun environment. Mike has worked in two of Jimmy Buffetts
Margaritaville restaurants, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and
How did you get started working
for Jimmy Buffet?
I had just moved back to Myrtle Beach from Nashville, I had
years of bartending experience. and a friend of mine was bartending
there already. He informed me that since it was spring, they
were getting ready to hire a bunch of people for the summer season.
Putting in an application with a good referral and plenty of
experience I liked my chances.
What are some of the benefits
of working at a Margaritaville restaurant (insurance, vacation
pay?), and what did you like best about your time there?
The benefits were outstanding, Blue cross heath, vision, and
a decent dental plan. Vacation time is paid after one year of
continuous employment, and they have one of the best 401K plans
that I have ever seen.
I understand you invented a drink
that became popular. What is it called, and what's in it?
It is called "Bama Breeze" it's named after one
of my favorite Buffett songs, It's a simple recipe really, Cruzin
Vanilla and orange rums, Mango and Pina Coloda mix as well as
a splash of OJ. It was fun actually, Jimmy Buffett has a large
fan base and when they are sitting at the bar and find out you
created the drink, it was a lot of fun selling and signing collector
Now, I understand that a bartender
can do well staying behind the bar, but had you wanted to work
your way into other positions, including management, was advancement
Of course, There are always opportunities for advancement.
Especially at Margaritaville. A bartender I worked with in Myrtle
Beach has recently been promoted to bar manager in Pensacola
Beach, FL, A bar manager from Orlando was my General Manager
in Glendale. those are a few examples but the stories are all
around the place.
What would you recommend for those
who want to get hired at a Margaritaville restaurant? Are there
positions that are pretty much open to anyone--like dish washing,
for example? And if a person wants to tend bar, what kind of
previous experience is Margaritaville likely to look for in your
I would recommend being yourself. The greatest thing in my
opinion that Margaritaville does is to let you be who you are.
I'm sure you wouldn't need much experience getting a dish washer
job, that's pretty much an entree job into any restaurant. Once
in, you can be a busser, then a server, and then bartender and
on from there. If getting right in as a bartender is what you
want to do, you really do need some bar experience, Margaritaville
requires knowledgeable bartenders, there is a rigorous testing
period to get through when you first get hired.
What's the most you have made
in one day at Margaritaville?
There was one day I will always remember, I was scheduled
to open Margaritaville in Glendale AZ, and ended up working a
double shift as a bartender had called out. I bartended from
11 am till 2 am. that day I had brought home over $700 in tips
and also collected 15 hours of pay at 4.25 an hour.
Is it a fun place to work?
It was an absolute blast. It hardly ever felt like I was working.
I was simply showing up to have fun every day.
Mikes email: jerseymike75 @ aim.com