Lesson 1: Everyone sets aside differences when everything is in chaos
Adam Glenn, Jimmy’s Corner, NYC
In January of 1981, the regulars at Jimmy’s Corner in Times Square had a little bet going. The bar owners, boxer Jimmy Glenn and wife Swietlana “Swannie” Garbarska, were expecting their first child. Swannie was quite a few weeks past her Christmas due date, and the patrons had begun putting money on when she’d have the baby. The doctors decided she would have a C-section at the end of month, which meant big winnings for someone. “The guy who bet on that time slot was a guy my mom didn’t particularly like,” says Adam Glenn, the subject of the 1981 bet and current manager of Jimmy’s Corner. “She actually tried to get the doctor to reschedule, but he wasn’t having it.
“I met him later in life,” Glenn adds. “A guy by the name of Felix. I always knew him as the guy who won money on my birth.”
Glenn was born a full month late, but when he finally came out, Swannie, a Polish immigrant, went right back to work at Jimmy’s. After all, it’s where she learned English, where she met her husband, and where she called home. And as a family-owned business, Jimmy’s relied on everyone to keep the lights on. “I’ve worked here since I was old enough and big enough to push or move something,” Glenn says. “I was loading buckets of ice when I was 3 years old.”
But it wasn’t until 2003 that Glenn’s skills really came in handy. That summer, New York City, along with the rest of the Northeast, suffered a widespread power outage that lasted up to two days in some areas. Instinctively, Glenn rushed to Jimmy’s and experienced a night that would change him forever. “Everyone in my family knows if there’s an emergency or something, you go straight to the bar,” he says. He didn’t know everyone else had the same plan. In rushed the entire neighborhood: frightened, aimless, and unbearably hot in the dead of August.
“It was the busiest day and night in the history of Jimmy’s because we were able to keep all of our beer cold with our thousand-cup ice machine,” Glenn says, adding that even though sales were good, the situation was not. “It was hot and uncomfortable and people were scared.” Glenn was fresh out of college, but he knew something needed to be done. Even though it was pitch black in the bar, he took control, serving nearly every single beer Jimmy’s had and assuring patrons things would soon be all right. That night, Jimmy’s stayed open for the neighborhood until 6am.
“The next day when we were going home, my mom said to me, ‘You know what? You’re gonna be a hell of a bartender.’ It was such a point of pride for me,” Glenn says.
Between then and now, Glenn got a Harvard law degree. But it’s a funny thing: He says taking the bar is far less intimidating than tending one. “The best education I ever got was at Jimmy’s,” Glenn says. “It taught me how to deal with people, how to manage situations. If you can manage a situation at a bar, with people at their worst, you can manage a situation in a boardroom, or really anywhere in the world.”