By Megan Bardoe for iCoconutGrove
I grew up in the swamps of Central Florida, a small town with dirt roads called Windermere, snuggly nestled among the Butler Chain of Lakes. I wrestled alligators, knee-boarded on any object a boat with a motor could tow, and could navigate the parks of Disney World better than Walt himself. After high school, I moved to Paris where I studied Art History and Comparative Literature at the American University of Paris. After a brief stint in Graduate School at the University of Amsterdam, I returned to the United States which had grown more foreign to me than my years of travels to far and distant lands, some real, others imaginary, from Europe to Southeast Asia. I fled to New York City and a few years later ended up in my native State of Florida as an art consultant to the cruise lines. I crossed the Atlantic twice onboard two brand-spanking new ships, was rocked to sleep by the teal waters of the Caribbean, and wore my invisible stripes as an honorary crew member until they faded away like the setting sun. People seem always to be more interested in my brief time onboard cruise ships rather than my years of study and travels abroad. To me, the former experience was more like the ride 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the latter, the thrill of Space Mountain.
I began working at Lulu in the Grove nearly two years ago, and for the first time since I left the dusty roads of Windermere behind me, have felt myself planting roots. I remember as a teenager asking my dad to give me money to go out with friends and he told me to get a job, so I started waiting tables at our neighborhood Perkins. I have been involved in food and beverage service on two continents and several oceans and my father has been a waiter at Disney for almost forty years, so I reckon that it’s safe to say that hospitality runs in my blood. Since stepping on stage at Lulu, I’ve been given the opportunity to express myself through creating drinks and to quench my insatiable thirst for meeting new people and providing them with an unique dining experience. I love gin and I loathe people who ask for Bud Lights or Long Island Iced Teas. At Lulu, we always try to have sports on the television, great music playing in the background and I only ask my regulars to refrain from talking religion or politics. And when it comes to personality, to quote Oprah, “Go BIG or go home!”
I look forward to meeting you at Lulu in the Grove, the funky neighborhood joint that has captured my imagination and is refostering my long-lost American pioneering spirit. If you sit at the bar, you’ll know it’s me when you see the girl who reminds you of Ally Sheedy in the Breakfast Club.