FALL RIVER — What do you do when you love teaching staff the craft of bartending? For James A. Primo III and Shannon Raposo the answer’s simple: open your own bartending school.
Primo Bartending School is opening for its first cohort of students in the one-week day program on Oct. 15. They’re also offering night and weekend classes.
“We felt there was definitely a need for it in the city,” said Primo as he stood behind the fully stocked training bar at the new school at 16 Granite St. Though at this bar, the bottles are filled with water ready for students to take their turns at learning pours and mixing up cocktails.
Behind the bar, the setup — complete with soda guns, plastic fruit and sinks — is geared to giving students everything they need to learn to become a bartender, they said.
With new restaurants opening in the area and the casino down the road in Tiverton, they said opening a school to train people who want to get into the well-paid bartending field makes sense. The closest bartending schools are in Brockton and Providence.
The one-week course also includes TIPS (Training and Intervention Procedures for Servers of Alcohol) training and certification for Rhode Island and Massachusetts, which is required by most establishments. At the end of the week, students will be required to pass a bartending test to make sure they’re up to the school’s standards, they said.
Raposo has been a manager at area restaurants for the past 10 years and bartending for as long as she can remember. Primo has been assistant manager at the Elks for the past 10 or 11 years which includes managing, overseeing private functions and bartending at the members’ bar and events. He’s also been a bartender at the Tipsy Seagull for the past eight summer seasons. “Through both of our experiences, we’ve had plenty of experience in the field.... If you want to make a career out of it, we’re going to give you the skills to do that,” said Primo.
So far, most of the students who have enrolled are those over the age of 30 looking for a career change or a way to make a decent second income, added Raposo.
Once students graduate and obtain their TIPS certification, they’ll have the chance to get some (unpaid) experience working at an actual bar — Dunny’s Saloon, just around the corner. On Thursday nights starting Nov. 29, Raposo said they will have alumni nights during which she’ll be working with the graduates behind the bar at Dunny’s. “It’s like an internship — they’ll have absolute hands-on training right from the get-go,” she said.
“It’s unheard of,” added Primo. “Typically bartending schools will give you a list of places that are hiring and send you on your way. We’re actually helping you get experience in a real bar to put on your resume.”
Raposo said they will also be working with area restaurants and bars to train their employees who want to work behind the bar.
“Our goal is to be a community, not just a school. We’ll have functions and get-togethers for graduates,” she said.
Day classes run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Night classes are offered from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The weekend class runs for two weeks from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuition includes TIPS certification. They’re running a discount tuition rate of $340 for anyone who starts before Jan. 1 and an additional 5 percent military discount. The tuition includes the cost of TIPS certification. Jan. 1.
Get a look at Primo Bartending School at the free open house on Saturday, Oct. 13, from 6 to 9 p.m. For details, visit www.primobartendingschool.com.