Seeing Red: From the Nation's Capital to the Capital of Entertainment

Almost everyone in New York City, except for the few natives of course, have a make or break story about coming to New York. But whether you came here or grew up here, you stay for one reason- for the great opportunity to do what you love. For Virgil Reginald Beaty, Jr., or Reggie as we know him at Red Rooster, he came to New York from Washington, D.C. with a set plan to pursue a career in finance and and since fallen in love with New York's theatrical appeal.

Today for Seeing Red, we take a look at one of the Rooster's friendliest bartenders and get his take on how the finance industry wasn't as stable as he once thought; but most importantly how he learned to go after what you most love!

Tell me a little bit about yourself.  First off, how did you get into bartending?

Well, it's funny, because I'm originally from D.C., and I moved here four years ago to pursue my career in finance.  I went to school for finance, I have a degree in finance; I worked in the financial industry for three years.  During those three years, I worked for two major corporations, and I was laid off twice by two major corporations, primarily because of the job economy.  I chose finance because I thought it would be the most stable industry, and I learned a lot from that choice-which is, you should always go with your heart.  You shouldn't go with what you think is stable, what you think is more comfortable.  Go with what you feel is best for you.

And, so, I went into bartending out of necessity.  I needed to have a job, it was hard to get a job in any other market, and it was presented to me through a friend of mine working for another restaurant in Harlem.  I worked there for a little over a year.  Then I met people here, because they would go to the bar at nights, and they recommended me coming here, which is how I got my start at Red Rooster.

What did you specialized in finance?

I was doing forecasting, reporting, I did all the grunt work of a corporation. I was working for the strategy and planning team when I got to New York.  And it was fun, I enjoyed the people there, but I knew that wasn't what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It's difficult sitting behind a desk, in front of a computer doing Excel spreadsheets for the majority of your life. It was really time-consuming, tedious, and I didn't have fun at it, at all.  But, I did enjoy being analytical, and figuring out problem solving, figuring out how to, I guess, make a dollar out of fifteen cents, essentially.  So it was interesting.  I like to use that in my everyday life, which I do.  So I'm very good with keeping up and tracking money, and how it's spent.

So what is it that you do want to do for the rest of your life?

Good question.  I have always wanted to be an actor.  I have always wanted to go on, and be in a career in entertainment, and I've always been apprehensive of doing so because it's not-to me, it wasn't stable.  Which is why I say, go with your heart.  Because either you're going to do something that you hate doing, and you're going to be forced to do something that you want to do, or you're just going to go and do it anyway.  I'm a firm believer that whatever you're meant to do in life, you're going to end up doing.  So it's going to either be your decision, or it's just going to be a rough road to get there.  So, I had a rough road to get there.  But, you know, I appreciate it a lot more now, since I'm going through it.

What type of acting would you like to do?

Actually, it's so interesting, because for the first time, I went to go see Mountain Top, which is a play starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.  One thing I noticed through screen acting and, also, through stage play is that there is no cut.  There is no retake, there is no "OK, next camera scene."  It's, you know, you're on stage, and as soon as they say, "Action, stage up, curtain up," you're on stage and you're that person. So I respect people that do stage acting, but I would rather do movies and TV shows.  I don't want to limit myself, like I said.  I don't know where my path may take me, but wherever it goes, I think it would be the right direction for me.

What do you like about working here at Red Rooster?

Everyone is really nice.  As far as the far as the employees, the management, and the owners, it's more of a camaraderie type of place.  I was telling people it's rare that you can go to work and actually enjoy going to work.  That's one thing I've learned from working here.  I've worked in a lot of other places where it was hard to get up in the morning.  I'm here, and I do the lunch shift at nine o'clock in the morning.  It's not that difficult.  It's not a regret, it's not a challenge.  With that, I'd like to think it's a good thing.

So how is the life up here in New York, and in Harlem, different from D.C.?

Well, it's anything you want at any given time, you can actually get or you can do.  If you want to go and get a nice meal at a sit-down restaurant at three o'clock in the morning, you can find a nice restaurant that's open 24 hours downtown.  You can get that in D.C. as well, with a couple of spots, but it's a different vibe, it's a different feel.  Here, I think a lot of people are a lot more open to communication, to talking, to informing.  You meet a lot of different personalities and people of different background, education and it's a nice plethora of people with different ideas than you.

And I appreciate differences in people.  It's by nature; I just like to get into a person's mind and know exactly what they're thinking, especially when it's different from my mind set.  And that's what you can get here.  I think in D.C., a lot of people can't really step out of the norm.  You have to stay within the field.

Harlem is definitely a neighborhood, and I appreciate that.  That's the similarities of D.C. and New York, or Harlem. We might not know each other's name, but we definitely know each other.  It's a nice environment for a family, nice environment for making nice relationships with other people.

With this job, you meet a lot of international people, and you see their perspective and their excitement about coming to Harlem.  I highly suggest anyone who is interested in living here or has never even visited Harlem, to come and visit.  There are a lot of things to do and it's fun.  We're all very welcoming.

So what are your recommendations for a great Harlem drink?

There are two types of drinks that I like here.  Something that's not as strong, I would recommend a Savoy.  A lot of people don't like a stronger drink, but the Savoy has muddled grapes, a little agave nectar, and it's made with a Polish vodka and some lemon juice.  It's really good because it still has that grape essence with the vodka taste, and the agave nectar is kind of sweet, so it's a nice sweet drink.  It's not overbearingly sweet though.

And then there's the Brownstoner.  Which is extremely strong to me, but it's a good strong though!  The Brownstoner is made with our nutmeg-infused bourbon with cherry heering and St. Germain.  St. Germain is like a wine liqueur.  It has a nice sweet taste to it, but because of the bourbon and the cherry heering, it's watered down a bit.  So those are my two favorite drinks, especially to make.  I love to make the Brownstoner.  It's a nice little example of what bartenders do.

For more Seeing Red interviews, click here. 

Photos: Cyndi Amaya

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