Chips ’n’Sips


Being a waitress is often a thankless job. They have to deal with customers who bark orders at them, they’re on their feet all day making mad dashes from one table to another and they often work hours that would make even the most dedicated night owl lose sleep. Now take that and throw in a uniform that is tight enough to squeeze the last drop out of an old roll of toothpaste, and you have a cocktail waitress. But not all is lost. Some people, like Jessica Harvey at Thunder Valley Casino, enjoy the life of a cocktail waitress. To her, the guests are a source of good conversations and explosions of joy (when they win, that is).

—Jeff Chinn

How long have you been cocktailing?

About four years now [at Thunder Valley]. I started off at a small bar nearby, and after I got a little experience, I then changed jobs.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Working around the guests. I really do like being here. My favorite part is being out there and able to talk to people, be able to relate to everyone while they’re having a good time.

How does the cocktailing thing work; how are you assigned an area to work in?

The casino is broken up into sections, areas. You have to bid on a shift—we bid on our shifts about every six months, but sometimes only once a year. I work the same area all the time during the same hours, so I get to know the people that come here regularly pretty well.

What is your favorite area to work?

I like working the area around the [card] tables best, but really,it’s your attitude that kind of makes your experience good or bad. I think having a good relationship with the people you work with is important. I really, really like my job, and I think a lot of that is because I have a good working relationship with the other employees, and we have great management. I enjoy working for Thunder Valley.

What do you think about the uniform?

I like it, it does wonders! Well, except after lunch. Then it’s not too comfortable. (Laughs.) They are giving us new ones pretty soon. … They wanted to update them. The new ones are supposed to have a similar skirt but with a pair of slits on the front.

What is your favorite place in Thunder Valley?

Oh, I like the Falls Bar. They have live music sometimes; that’s fun while you’re working, to have live music. They also have deejays at other times. The bartenders there, they do that thing when they toss the bottles into the air, flair. They throw the bottles into the air, bounce them off their elbows, all that stuff. Very fun to watch.

Do you have any favorite moments?

Yeah, when people win. They get excited; that’s fun.

What are some of the more memorable things that you’ve seen guests do when they win?

Oh, they yell. Sometimes if they win big, they’ll stand up and start screaming. It’s fun to watch, a lot of them will start talking about all the things they’re going to do with the money, too, like buy a car and stuff.

The casino expansion is coming soon; what changes do you think that will bring for you?

I’m not sure how it’s going to change my job. There will be more employees, and a new bar.

Will the bartenders at the new bar practice “flair”?

(Laughs.) Uh, I’m not sure. We don’t even know the name of the new bar. It’s a secret.

The name of the new bar is a secret?

Yeah. Nobody knows what it’s going to be called. (She consults the communications guy sitting at the table with us, who nods affirmation that the name of the bar is intentionally being kept a secret, even from employees.) But I do know that there’s a spa going in with the expansion. I think I’m going to become a regular at the spa!

So you like the idea of a spa being here, is that what I’m gathering?

Yeah, it’s supposed to be a very nice facility. They’re going to be offering all sorts of spa services: facials, manicures, pedicures, massages. I guess they’re putting in a fitness facility, too. And a pool.

I understand that the casino is expanding to include not just the spa and new bar but a gift shop, live poker room and additional rooms in the hotel. Any idea when this is all supposed to be completed?

I know we’re having a grand opening on the Fourth of July weekend. That’s when all this stuff is supposed to be in full swing.

Any advice you would like to impart on people visiting Thunder Valley?

Have a great time, relax. Come in for the drink specials; we have happy hour prices on Bloody Marys between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. A lot of the bars feature $2 beers and stuff like that during their happy hours, too. Also, we feature a certain alcohol every month, so make sure to check that out, too. Other than that, just relax and let us take care of you!