After 27 Years, “Mean” Jean Retires from Bartending

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“Mean” Jean Vance snuggles up to long-time friend Rick Worrell after her last shift at Skinny Legs.

Friends, co-workers and devoted customers packed Skinny Legs in Coral Bay to bid adieu to long-time bartender “Mean” Jean Vance on Tuesday afternoon, December 5.

For anyone who knows her, “Mean” is certainly the last word that could describe Vance, but the nickname has stuck throughout the years regardless.

Vance started bartending at The Back Yard in 1979 where she was hired by Doug Sica who was managing the establishment at the time. When Sica and Moe Chabuz opened Skinny Legs in the early 90s, Vance went along and the rest, as they say, is history.

While Vance is not leaving island, she will be sorely missed by many who were accustomed to her signature braids and infectious smile behind the bar at Skinny Legs.

Concentrating on Cyberspace
Vance, who maintains a number of Web sites including skinnylegs.com, stjohnlinks.com and coralbaystjohn.com, will dedicate her time to expanding her Web design business and everyone is excited to see what she comes up with in cyberspace.

Before hanging up her apron, however, Vance took a moment to share some words of wisdom gleamed over the past 27 years.

“Greet everyone who walks in with a nod or smile so they know you know they are there,” said Vance. “Treat all with the respect you would want for yourself. Play Led Zepplin when you want to make a lot of money and jazz when you want to clear the bar — unless you are in a jazz bar, of course.”

Importance of Music
“You can control the crowd with music,” she continued. “If you see two people in each others faces, go over say something goofy or funny — that can stop a fight about to start. Screaming ‘hey’ works sometimes too.”

Having fun is the bottom line in bartending, Vance added.

“Know you are there for everyone to have a good time — that means your customers and the people you work with,” she said.

During Vance’s “retirement from bartending” party local favorites Mo and Chris Carsel entertained the crowd amid raucous cheers from old friends greeting each other.

Moe on Mic
Chabuz himself even picked up the guitar and played along with the band, dedicating a number of songs to Vance.

After much merry-making and lots of laughs, it was sadly time to bid Mean Jean Vance adieu. Although she will still be on island, with Vance not behind the bar at Skinny Legs, it’s the end of an era.