Published On May 30, 2018 in 
Leadership & Development and PECO Culture

In our newest #PeopleofPECO story, we're getting to know Erin Morris. Erin has been with Phillips Edison since last October and currently works in the Salt Lake City office as the Digital Media & Marketing Coordinator. Before entering the world of commercial real estate, Erin was shaking & stirring ZESTY cocktails in her hometown of Bradenton, FL. While now she is “retired” from the bartending life, the lessons learned have lived on. Read on to hear her story.

You know the old saying- when life gives you lemons, make a lemon drop martini. Okay, that’s not how it goes, but aren’t martinis a little more fun than lemonade? To be fair, life did not give me “lemons”, it gave me student loans. One of the quickest way to pay those off? Bartending.

I learned to bartend at Mattison’s Riverside in Bradenton, Florida at the ripe age of 21. I “worked my way up” from hostess to server to finally having the privilege to bartend. Looking back, I could think of much “easier” establishments to learn the bartending business in, but I got thrown right into this waterside restaurant that served over 200 people a night. Mattison’s was located at the end of a pier in the middle of a busy marina and included two floors, inside and outside dining, daily happy hour specials (with plenty of thirsty retirees), and a plethora of lemon drop martinis.

For those of you who have never made a lemon drop, here is a basic breakdown:

  1. One shot of citrus vodka
  2.  Splash of triple sec
  3. Splash of lemon juice
  4. Pinch of sugar
  5. Shaken well
  6. Zest of lemon around the rim, then placed on the side as a garnish
  7. Poured into a chilled martini class with a sugared rim

It is a time-consuming cocktail to make and will put you “in the weeds” with other orders before you know it. When a group of guests ordered a round of these martinis, you would have to accept your fate and know that you would be trying to catch up for quite some time.

My time spent working as bartender taught me many things. Some were as obvious as learning to pour a draft beer, and others were long-lasting and still impactful to this day. Here are a few of my life lessons learned from the bar.

The customer is always right (kind of).
Anyone who has worked in the service industry knows the saying: “the customer is always right.” Is it true? Definitely not. Do you have to abide by it anyway? Absolutely. Dealing with difficult customers is a part of any job. There will always be challenging people to work with (or serve, in the case of a restaurant job) and learning to manage those difficult situations in a bar setting has only improved my outlook on customer relations since.

In any setting, people do not want to hear excuses, they want to see results. Drink is wrong? Fix it. Food taking too long? Apologize. This same lesson applies to a professional setting as well. Don’t give excuses, just get the job done - whatever it may be.

The best way to get over shyness? Throw yourself into the fire.
I was a shy kid growing up - to the point where I wouldn’t even call in a pizza because I didn’t want to talk to a stranger. When I joined the restaurant industry, I had to get over that fear - and fast. Your job is to literally walk up to strangers and start a conversation. It was uncomfortable and unnatural for me, but the more I did it, the easier it got. With experience comes confidence. Some people are not naturally confident speakers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t train yourself to be. I still don’t love the idea of public speaking, but I understand that the only way to overcome that fear is to keep doing it.  

Do the right thing (even if it’s not the easy thing).
This is one of PECO’s core values and one I have lived by even before joining the company. In many jobs, it’s easy to just “get by” doing the bare minimum and still getting paid. You can work with a less-than-friendly attitude, cut corners throughout your shift and have co-workers pick up your slack. In many cases, you can still have a job (for a time). I’m sure you can think of at least one person that fits this description. Don’t be that person.

It would be easy to save time by making subpar cocktails. Maybe the customers wouldn’t even notice. But I would know. My work ethic is something I’ve always been proud of, and I set a high standard for myself. I’ve gotten generous tips because of it. But beyond that, I’ve made new professional connections, received job opportunities, earned raises and was promoted because of that ethic. But it all started in these early learning experiences.

Bartending isn’t always glamourous like Tom Cruise in Cocktail, but it paid the bills and the experience opened doors to many new opportunities. Even those dreaded lemon drop martinis taught me the value of patience (which I may not have appreciated as much at the time!). I’m grateful for the lessons I learned in the service industry and how that experience continues to influence my professional career to this day at Phillips Edison. Now who’s ready for a martini?

Erin Morris
Erin Morris
Digital Media & Marketing Coordinator
Core Values
Women in Real Estate