Welcome to a special Cocktail Week edition of Lifers, a feature in which Eater Vegas interviews the men and women who have worked in the restaurant and bar industry for the better part of their lives, sharing their stories and more.
Isaac Rendon [Photo: Chelsea McManus]
Isaac Rendon pretty much started working at Emeril's New Orleans Fish House at the MGM Grand 18 years ago when the restaurant first opened. He started as a food runner, then moved to the bar as a bar back and now he serves as the bar manager for the Emeril Lagasse restaurant.
Why did you get into bartending?
Pretty much I like to interact with people and have fun. I used to work at Mexican restaurant Ricardo's. They let me bus tables and I was always having fun interacting with the customers. I was fortunate they gave me the opportunity here.
Do you have a favorite cocktail to make, something you always enjoy people ordering?
A mojito. I like making the mojitos. When you're making the mojito it gets all the attention from the customers when you're muddling the mint. Everyone always has the most questions about it. Once one person orders it, everyone orders it.
Do you have any strange or funny stories from customers over the years?
I have a few. A couple guys who were Marines were back from Afghanistan. They wanted to get a table at Studio 54. I saw these girls and I cried hey, to get them to come over. "Are you going out tonight? My friends have a table. They can get you in." A year later Jamie ended up marrying one of them. They came back. Now have two kids. I guess I played the cupid that day. That came out of nowhere.
Do you get a lot of celebrities in here?
When the fights are in or Andre Agassi does a special event with us.
What's the first thing that shocked you in Las Vegas?
I think when I loved to Vegas they were knocking down the old Vegas casinos. It was shocking to see the new ones rise. The Frontier and the Dunes. I remember going to the Strip watching them blow them up.
Which is the busiest time of day?
The busiest time is happy hour is 2 to 6 p.m. It's pretty busy over here.
How has your job changed over the years?
I would say, over the years, my job has changed since we went corporate. The growth of the restaurant and liquor gets better and better.
What's your favorite liquor?
I would say I'm a tequila drinker. Tequila. I love that. I could drink it, sip on it. Drink it in a cocktail.
Bourbon is the hot thing right now. You see the way things circle from flair bartenders to competition and now mixology.
Do you have any family or children?
Yes, I have three girls and a boy. And I'm done. My oldest is a senior this year We're pretty excited about that.
When you're not here, on your weekends, what do you do for fun?
I do a lot of off-roading, quading, fishing, hiking. My son plays football. My daughter is on the cheerleading squad. We do a lot of outdoor stuff even though it's hot out here. We tend to be inside a lot working. I try to get outside as much as I can.
Did you ever think you'd be bartending for this much of your life?
You know that's a good question. I didn't see it when I walked into it. I think I've been fortunate to work for Emeril. It's a trade that's given my family a good life. Now doing it for so long, it stuck on me. I don't think I could do anything else besides be a bartender. You meet a lot of neat people from all around the world.
What's it like to work with Emeril?
I think what I love about Emeril he's himself. He would be back there cooking with his cooks. He's interactive. If you show initiative he gives you a chance. He'll give you a chance to grow.
He's a genuinely nice guy. He's very outgoing when it comes to customers and employees. When I used to run food, he was back there in the kitchen for a month. He takes his food very seriously.
When you see him on TV, he's very energetic, very funny, very serious with his cooking.
Where do you go to drink when you're not working?
I like to go to the opposite — the PTs and Sierra Golds — because working in a casino, at the time when you're off, you want to be at the local bars, the smaller bars. Peppermill on the Strip is pretty nice. When my wife wants to go out and hang out, we'll go to Mandalay Bay or the Mirage.
· All Coverage of Emeril's New Orleans Fish House [~ELV~]
· All Coverage of Cocktail Week 2013 [~ELV~]
Isaac Rendon [Photo: Chelsea McManus]