Rocky Fork Enterprise

Gatsby's bartender taps 30 years of memories

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LORRIE CECIL/THISWEEKNEWS.COM
Tim Hall mixes drinks and shares laughs with old friends on his last night of bartending at Gatsby's in Gahanna. Hall, a Pataskala resident, has been a bartender there for 30 years.
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It was last call Jan. 25 for Gatsby's bartender Tim Hall, who retired after 30 years of working at the 36-year-old Gahanna landmark.

Hall, 58, has worked various positions at the restaurant/bar -- from bouncer to janitor. For the past 20 years, he has helped put the happy in happy hour as a bartender from 4 to 8 p.m. every Friday.

"Everyone will miss him," said Clint Sahr, a regular customer and former Gatsby's employee. "Happy hour will suffer, but we'll figure it out. He's a good guy and a good bartender. He would give you the shirt off his back."

Hall first started working the door as a bouncer for the bar's original owner, Greg Chapin, who opened the establishment in 1977.

"Within a month, I was asked if I wanted to tend bar," he said.

Hall and his wife, Arlene, cleaned the building after business hours for 12 years.

Doug Vance, who bought Gatsby's with his wife, Gina, in 2001, worked with Hall for six years before becoming his boss.

"He came with the bar," Vance joked. "I adapted around him."

Since Hall's day job is solitary as a truck driver for Kellogg's, Vance said, his social outlet has been Gatsby's.

"He enjoys people," Vance said. "He's very laid-back and good-hearted."

When he learned an acquaintance on his truck route had cancer and was in need, Vance said, Hall organized a fundraiser.

"He's a great man, and we will miss him," said Natalie Niemann, who has worked the same shift with Hall for the past decade. "Timmy is great. He's so much fun and personable. Whether it's your first time here or you're here every week, he makes you feel at home."

Hall said the same is true of Niemann.

As the result of an automobile accident, Hall said, he can't stand straight. After 30 years on the job, he said, it's time to go.

Hall said the gift of gab helped make him a natural bartender.

"But I know when to shut up and listen," he said.

Hall said Gatsby's gave him the opportunity to mingle.

"It's always fun to hang out with people," he said. "I know people more by their drink than their names."

Throughout the years, he has served thousands of customers, including Ohio State University's 1955 Heisman winner, Howard "Hopalong" Cassady.

"I've had a lot of customers I've enjoyed and become friends with," Hall said.

The father of three adult children, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild made a point to serve the last drink to Arlene. She chauffeured him to Gatsby's weekly from their home in Pataskala after he finished his day job.

Hall's relationship with Gatsby's also extended beyond the bar to the athletics field.

The 1972 Gahanna Lincoln High School graduate played shortstop for the Gatsby's softball team in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

"We ruled Columbus for years," he said. "We traveled all over. We even went to New Jersey to play one weekend."

Today the bar is mostly known for volleyball, beer, pizza and subs.

Hall and 22-year Gatsby's bartender Lisa Whitlock agree it's the people who make the place.

"Doug has been the best," Hall said. "It has been a wonderful experience. It has been a great job and place to be. The crowd changes, but I've enjoyed the people."

He said he looks forward to doing what other people do on a Friday night, like dinner and a movie with Arlene.

"Tim is my dude," Whitlock said. "He's like a fixture, like an old picture on the wall. He's a familiar face. The people and atmosphere have kept us here. It's like home."

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