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Categories: 2024 Seasoned in Service, FEB/MARCH 2024, FOOD & DRINK, Seasoned in Service

Seasoned in Service:
Michael Brunner
17 years, 13 as a bartender at The Hummingbird

Seasoned in Service is a series in our annual Food Issues, celebrating local food service professionals who have been in the business for ten or more years, highlighting their invaluable contributions to our community.

Interviews by Sierra Stark Stevens

Photos by DSTO Moore

After 13 years behind the stick at one of Macon, Georgia’s busiest dive bars — The Hummingbird Stage and Taproom — Michael Brunner delves into what drives his dedication.


How did your bartending career begin?

I had a lot of different types of jobs before I started bartending. I have always been able to get along with everyone and have fun at work, and not take things too seriously. Work can be a very stressful thing if you let it get to you.  I started out bartending at Panama City Beach, Florida. I had an awesome summer job on the beach that allowed me to save up to pay for college. I would go down every spring break and summer and work with a group of really great friends. At The Hummingbird, I pretty much asked the owner every day for a shift. He finally got tired of me asking and threw me back there on a busy Saturday night. 

How do you approach your work?
I like making people feel comfortable. A positive attitude along with treating people well will go a long way in the service industry. I’ve always practiced the concept of treating a person like a person. Not like a dollar sign, not bad because they don’t tip, just treat everyone the same. It can be very rewarding.  

What makes you most proud at the end of the day?
The place I work is interesting because 90% of the customers are regulars. It makes me proud that those people decide to walk into the place I work, sit down with me, and order a drink from me because I’m there. Makes me feel pretty good. 

What should people sip on when they sit down with you?
The Hummingbird is a big dive bar. We specialize in getting simple drinks out quick, but I make a pretty good Paloma if anyone ever wants to try it!

What do you wish outsiders knew about what it’s like to work in the service industry?
A lot of people want to learn how to make drinks and think that is all there is to being in the service industry. To me, drinks are the easy part. Being able to deal with different types of people is the hard part. Anybody can pour a drink, but not anybody can deal with the elements that come with people consuming adult beverages until the early morning hours.

What’s important to you when you’re not behind the stick?
Making time for myself is very important outside of work. I spend a lot of my free time playing video games and traveling. Keeping your mental health in check while working in the service industry is very, very, very important. Exercise, eating well, etc.