As bars close, more lose jobs


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Dave Zarzynski bartended at One-Eyed Jakes for nearly two-and-a-half years.

But in early December, roughly a month after Iowa City residents voted to uphold the 21-ordinance, the bar closed, and the 21-year-old lost the job he loved.

“I liked the nightlife and the football weekends,” Zarzynski recalled. “It was a ton of fun. The atmosphere was the best part.”

He said he’s found a job at the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center, but the atmosphere is not the same — and neither is the pay.

The University of Iowa senior is one of a growing number of employees who have been laid off by bars that can’t afford to pay their salaries. Between One-Eyed Jakes and 808 alone, bar owners have had to let go at least 27 bartenders, bouncers, and cocktail waitresses, most of whom are University of Iowa students. So far, four Iowa City bars have closed and two more face liquor-license denials.

And though some Iowa City city councilors said they feel for those who lost their jobs, one noted other jobs do exist.

“I’m sorry people lost their jobs,” said Councilor Mike Wright. “It’s not an easy economy to get jobs, but I think there are positions out there. It’s just a matter of looking for them.”

Wright said he doesn’t believe the 21-ordinance was what caused the bars to close because, he contends, they were “shaky financially” a year ago and were probably going to close anyway.

Councilor Regenia Bailey said she was not shocked to hear of so many students losing their jobs because the 21-ordinance.

“I assume with the bars closing they did unemploy students, and they will have to find other jobs,” she said. “When businesses close, it’s going to happen.”

UI sophomore Josh Venckus said he started working at Jakes this past year and was let go in early December.

“I worked Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, so I lost a lot of money because I don’t have a job now,” Venckus said. “It has hurt me financially.”

Toward the end of One-Eyed Jakes, it had hardly any employees left.

“We had about four door guys, five bartenders, and four cocktail waitresses,” said Venckus.

The 20-year-old has tried looking for a new job at a bar, but it’s late in the hiring season.

“A lot weren’t hiring when I was looking,” Venckus said. “All the jobs got taken up, because it was so late in December and a lot of students had already been hired.”

Students aren’t the only ones feeling the effect.

Tom Lenoch, a former manager at Jakes, said he also feels the strain.

“I am out of a job, too, but nobody cares about that,” he said. “I’m a full-grown adult in Iowa City without a job.”

Grant Uding, a former 808 employee, said most of the staff at his bar was surprised about losing their jobs.

“I’m a little more fortunate I have other jobs that pay for what I need, but others are not so fortunate as I,” the UI junior said.

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