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Best of Olympia 2013 Food and Drink: Best Bartender - Dawn Gillnett

Weekly Volcano readers name King Solomon Reef's bartender the best in Olympia

DAWN GILLNETT: She loves her job. Photo credit: Winter Teems

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Dawn Gillnett, voted Olympia's Best Bartender, is a bit nervous having her first newspaper interview, but when asked to talk about her work mixing drinks and befriending customer's at King Solomon's Reef, she opens up.

"I LOVE it," she says. "I love the schedule. I love being around the people. You get to feel like you're part of the scene. You feel like you're going out and being social without going out and being social."

And Gillnett's customers love her, too.

"She's been doing this for over a decade," says Jason McIntyre, who owns the Reef. "She's absolutely professional. She's a super-cute lady, super-friendly, makes really good drinks, makes everyone feel welcome."

The two tended bar together at McCoy's Tavern, and when he bought the Reef, he knew he wanted her to work for him.

"There's not a Friday night that somebody doesn't come in to say hi to Dawn," he says. "They follow her from bar to bar."

Gillnett says there is some truth to the cliché that a bartender is a bit like a therapist.

"In a bar, people let their guard down as they drink more," she says. "You get to see all different sides of people. That can be a really nice thing; you get to know people really well and you build this relationship. It can be kind of an awkward thing; sometimes you see people fall off kind of hard."

Several years ago, she trained as a cosmetologist, thinking she might want to leave the bar scene, she says.

It didn't work.

"I just didn't like it," she says. "I like to be on my feet and moving around. I don't have a great attention span, so bartending is great. You always have something to do."


LINK: Best of Olympia 2013

LINK: Best of Olympia 2012

LINK: Best of Olympia 2011

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