Valerie's Bar & Grill of Dover deals in good times, great drinks and tasty treats like their infamous cheesesteaks. Bartender Joanne Callaway, along with owner Valerie Raynor and manager Ann Tribbett, let us in on some of the bar's highlights.
While Valerie’s Bar & Grill has been open nine years, bartender Joanne Callaway said that in the five months she’s been working she already loves how everyone gets along, including the staff. With input from owner Valerie Raynor and manager Ann Tribbett, Callaway shared a few stories about the local bar and grill.
Q What makes Valerie’s Bar & Grill unique?
A Joanne: It’s family oriented, very welcoming and of course has Valerie, the owner. A lot of the locals have known Valerie for 20 years.
Most places I’ve worked there’s a tightness, but not here. The customers help close the bar down and then do the buddy system to make sure everyone gets home safe.
Ann: We’ll take keys from customers if they need that and then make sure they get a ride home.
Q What draws so many regulars?
A Joanne: It’s the warm environment between the workers and the clientele.
Q In many places the bar or the restaurant is more popular, what’s the case here?
A Valerie: It’s pretty equal. We sell just as much food as liquor. We do a lot of take-out. People who come in to eat will get something to drink as well. We have specials every night that bring people in.
Q What are the most popular items to eat or drink?
A Joanne: Definitely the cheesesteaks and the 25-cent wings on Fridays. Also the draft beers are popular because we have good specials.
My favorite is the cheesesteaks. I need to stop eating so many of them. They come loaded with whatever people want.
Q Can you think of any memorable moments or stories?
A Joanne: Karaoke nights on the weekend are always entertaining but it never gets too rambunctious.
Ann: One time, I came out from the office and looked around and didn’t see Valerie or the bartender. I even checked the bathroom. Finally some of the customers told me that two customers had brought their new bikes to show off — because everybody likes to bring in things to show off — and Valerie and the bartender jumped on the back for a ride. They came back 30 minutes later.
Q How does the atmosphere change throughout the day or even from weeknights to weekends?
A Joanne: On Friday and Saturday with the karaoke we see a lot of different faces. After 9 p.m. on weekends, it’s louder and more of a bar than restaurant but nothing out of hand.
Ann: If we start to see any problems starting, we’ll head them off. We’re fair and ask both parties to leave, and then both will come back the next day and apologize.
Q Have you learned anything to make you a more efficient bartender?
A Joanne: Look at the positive and work well with the other bartenders. Also focus on who’s coming in and don’t let someone be ignored.