This week’s Bokenology takes us to Zack’s Oak Bar & Restaurant, 232 Willow Ave. This downtown bar and restaurant has a homey feel and casual charm to it. It also sports a little bit of history with its decades old mahogany and oak bar. Family owned and operated, they aim to give Hobokenites great food in a comfortable atmosphere. Open for lunch, brunch, and dinner, they offer food around the clock. A few of their popular selections include their Mac & cheese, steak sandwich, and stuffed chicken. You might not think a bar like Zack’s would offer specialty drinks, but they do and the results are fantastic. Zack’s Breakfast Bourbon is a nice compliment to brunch, and the “perfect gin and tonic” lives up to the hype. But the other draw of this pub is the friendly staff. Vanessa is one of the staff members who aims to make your time memorable.
DS: How long have you worked in the bar business?
Vanessa: About six months. I initially worked in marketing and I hated it. But now I’m pursuing a job as a sommelier. It’s a long term goal of mine.
DS: What is the best part of your job?
Vanessa: Interacting with people. You meet all kinds of people here. The people I work with are just great too. Most of the people I work with are working towards a graduate degree. I also like that there are so many regulars that come here.
DS: What has it taught you?
Vanessa: It’s taught me patience and tolerance. I’ve worked in customer service awhile- it’s important not to let the little things bother you. At the end of the day, they don’t matter.
DS: What is the most life affirming thing you’ve ever witnessed?
Vanessa: It’s very simple. There is this dad that comes in every Sunday with his 3 year-old daughter. He comes in every single Sunday and they have breakfast. He takes a picture of her which he is compiling for her. We are all so pressed for time. It’s nice to see someone take the time to do that.
DS: What is the best drink you make?
Vanessa: Baptism by fire! It has vodka and jalapeno. You’d think that the jalapeno would be weird, but the heat hits you and is gone.
DS: What do you drink on a night off?
Vanessa: Very often it’s a dirty martini. There are also times I just want a really good glass of red wine or a really good beer.
DS: What is the strangest request you’ve ever heard?
Vanessa: This guy came in and ordered a beer and said he didn’t have any cash on him. He said he would pay for it with his wedding ring. It was really sad and kind of disturbing.
DS: What is the single biggest tip you’ve ever received?
Vanessa: $80. It was from a girl who used to wait tables here.
DS: What advice would you give a 21 year-old going out in Hoboken?
Vanessa: Explore some of the smaller bars and try some beer or wine. Really explore your taste so you know what you like. When you go out, drink at your own pace! When I was 21 I would go out with large guys and I’m small. It’s really important to know your own pace.
Photos by Krista Kelly.