Darian Everding had just began working at the London Underground when a family of six walked in and sat down at her bar for a celebration. The oldest had just graduated from Iowa State. Everding served and got into some interesting conversations with the family before they left the bar.
Three years later, they walked into London Underground to celebrate another graduation. They remembered Everding, and all they talked about during their first visit.
“I can be the background piece to somebody learning that their kid just got accepted to college or learning that their father just passed away," Everding said. "There are all of these other life experiences that, for people who exist in and around bars, we are a part of that. It is such an intense, forced little community. That is extremely humbling to me.”
Everding was named one of the Iowa Restaurant Association’s 40 “Women to Watch” in hospitality. These women were selected for their trail blazing, leadership and ability to impress their managers, peers and customers on a daily basis.
“Women are building meaningful careers in every segment of the restaurant industry, and the numbers back that up," said Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association. "58% of food service supervisors and 49% of food service managers are women — far above the averages in nearly every other industry. From restaurant ownership to full-time sales and management, flexible hour part-time positions, women are charting their own paths in the hospitality sector.”
Everding, of her many roles as a bartender, primarily focuses on hospitality. She helps with menu planning and whiskey development, as well as bartending at both London Underground and +39 in Ames. Everding decided graduate school was not for her and dove right into the world of bartending, even founding the Iowa chapter of the Bartender’s Guild.
Everding has found her love of bartending from a variety of different places. As a social butterfly, she loves to form relationships with her customers over the counter, whether she sees them once or sees them regularly.
“The personal interaction and knowing that somebody comes into my bar, they place themselves at the bar or in a restaurant, that is a position of vulnerability," Everding said. "They are relying on someone else to provide a good experience for them. In that role I get to have these amazing conversations, build these amazing relationships and friendships and get to know these people."
Not only does she love the relationships formed across the bar, but she values education about bartending as well. With a background in STEM and a physics major to boot, she uses the bar as her lab to educate people on both alcohol and history.
“I love, love, love educating," Everding said. "I love being behind the bar, and it was like 'this could be my lab.' There are so many categories, so many things to learn. I have the opportunity to always pass that along."'
As part of her love for educating the public, Everding started working on "Women in Whiskey." She came to be the host of the event once a month after researching prominent women in the whiskey industry. However, she has found it hard to find information on this topic due to preexisting stereotypes in the industry.
“We have this very stereotypical image of women in the hospitality industry, especially barside," Everding said. "I can't speak to the other restaurant side of things, but barside, the big-titted bimbo is what we tend to think of as our stereotypical media portrayal. Those people and those women are valid […] if you want to use your sexuality as one of your personality points, more power to you. There are so many other facets of it, too. It is not a pie — there are not limited pieces to be taken."
Everding has two suggestions for hospitality:
The most important thing to do, she said, is read your guest. Everding said bartenders do not always need to be cheery, but they do need to let the guest determine the experience they want to have in a bar.
Her second piece of advice is to be self aware and understand how taxing the industry is. Everding warned that there will be times where bartenders need to know their limitations when situations walk in the door they may not be able to handle.
“I want people to be aware that yes, there is glamor," Everding said. "You make great money. You have access to a lot of really cool stuff. You usually can get food and beverages at a discount depending on where you work. It can be very, very cool. Take it as a whole picture, and don't get swept up in the glamor."
The 40 “Women to Watch” in Hospitality List is a step in the right direction, Everding said. She does not want other women in Iowa to feel disappointed for not making the list.
“It is something we need to see people being built up," Everding said. "We need to not tear each other down […] I hope lists like this and efforts like this that keep validating women in the industry as we saw on the list in all aspects of it."