Bar manager, event planner, virtual cocktail class connoisseur and all-around industry pro, Cassie Womack of Bidwell is no stranger to the hustle and bustle of hospitality and restaurant life. A connector of people, she thrives on the community and conviviality that comes with managing the bar at Bidwell. She’s also taken an active role spearheading event planning for the Union Market restaurant. With the start of Pride Month, Womack shares what a typical day looks like at Bidwell — as well as some of the upcoming Pride events she’s most excited to launch.
By the Hour
This is when the day starts for Womack, depending on how late the previous night kept her at work. As soon as she’s up, the calls begin.
“My phone just automatically starts going,” she says of the liquor reps, distributors and other industry contacts that keep her phone buzzing bright and early.
After responding to various inquiries, she checks in on liquor orders, ensuring everything is on schedule in light of recent truck driver shortages. If not, she troubleshoots any issues, oftentimes becoming the delivery driver herself.
Pending last-minute delivery changes, Womack arrives at Bidwell mid-morning. If all is in order and deliveries are on time, she tackles administrative tasks, taking advantage of the early quiet hours at the restaurant before turning her attention to checking inventory.
She continues to settle into her morning and communicates with her team, bracing for any pop-up staffing changes.
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Based on the day, Womack will jump in to assist with prep work ahead of service.
“Most restaurants are understaffed — we’re really burning the midnight oil,” she says of the team’s bandwidth. “Anything I can take off their plate, just to make their shifts easier, that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll go in and I’ll prep whatever I need to prep.”
If there’s an upcoming event, she’ll meet with the chef to discuss any particulars and logistics.
In between meetings, responding to emails and prep work, Womack finds time to test out recipes for new cocktail creations.
The doors open at Bidwell and service starts.
“We’re open at four o’clock and then we’re on,” she says.
With happy hour running from 4-7 p.m., the anchor restaurant at Union Market welcomes in a rush of guests.
“That’s typically a very busy time for us. It’s kind of nonstop,” Womack adds.
Happy hour ends and the team prepares for transition to dinner service.
Bidwell is currently without a general manager, so Womack took on the role — in addition to operations manager, bar manager and at times switching to floor and back-of-house manager. Sometimes this includes expediting, hosting and washing dishes.
“It’s whatever else needs to be done,” Womack says of the shifting nature of the job. “It’s like a puzzle. You get in where you fit in.”
Dinner rush sets in and continues for the next few hours. Womack sets the pace and flow for the restaurant, ensuring smooth service for the evening.
Depending on the weather and if guests linger, the dinner rush can go through closing time. Womack remains until service has ended.
After cleanup and closing, Womack leaves for the night.
Womack arrives back at home and the day officially ends.
Beyond the Day-to-Day
Bringing people together and forming connections comes naturally to Womack. As a bar manager, she tends to her regular customers, anticipating their arrival with their drink of choice at-the-ready as they walk through the doors. When in-person bartending was not an option during the pandemic, she ran virtual demonstrations and cocktail classes, continuing to build the sense of community despite not being physically together with her guests and regulars.
The restaurant reopened in April 2021 and it’s been all systems go since, including spearheading themed events for Bidwell as well as programming for Pride. Last year she helped launch the inaugural Drag Queen and King Brunch at Union Market’s Dock5. Modeled after drag balls, the category was community — a fitting theme for Womack.
“I’m really big on the diversity aspect: There’s always something that separates us, but when we all come together, we’re a mighty fist,” Womack reminisces. “The [Drag Queen and King Brunch] was truly diversity. And it was beautiful.”
Womack is excited to continue the momentum on the heels of last year’s successful celebrations. This time around, she’s planning for an even bigger slate of events, beginning with a panel aimed to drive better understanding and connection. Other festivities in the works include drag karaoke, a kickoff party at Dock5, and an all-black and white ball culminating with the second annual Drag Queen and King Brunch.
“The kickoff party is going to bring in all types of people. And that’s just what I like to see. I like to see everyone together having a good time.”
Learn more about Cassie Womack and her work at Bidwell and beyond on Instagram @underground.bartender.