Five Drinks with … Brian Reahm of Montego Bay
Author: Tommy Bastek
Name: Brian Reahm
Profession: Club Owner/Base Player, “Target”—the band.
Brian’s Drink of Choice: Ice water, squeeze of lemon
Tommy’s Drink of Choice: Vodka, soda, splash of cranberry
Location: Montego Bay Night Club, Park Plaza, Hilton Head Island
We are seated at the bar of the brand new Montego Bay. I haven’t been in here since the place changed hands from David Wingo. The changes I immediately notice are a whole new stage area, new dance floor and an infusion of new bright colors. Brian pulls himself away from working with the band and we sit to have our first drink.
Big Tommy: So Brian, what made you want to get out of the band business and get into the bar business?
Brian Reahm: Well to tell the truth, Tommy, I’m actually back in the bar business. I own two night clubs in Utica, New York.
BT: You’ve been here for 10 years. What made this the right time, or space?
BR: We were at the Crowne Plaza for three-and-a-half years as the house band, and at the Hilton for six years and I was always kind of “looking” for the right spot. This opportunity presented itself; it seemed to be the right one, so I took it.
BT: Tell me a little about Brian, the personal side. We know what you do for work, but are you married? Kids?
BR: Yep, my wife Michelle is lead singer in the band. She also plays keyboard and percussion. I have a daughter, who is 22, named Mackenzie, and an 18-year-old son named Brandon.
BT: Is it a family affair? Do they both work here too?
BR: Nope. Mackenzie has been working for the last six years at Wild Wing Café and Brandon right now is at Camp Long, military academy.
BT: Who finishes out the band?
BR: Maurice Putrello is our drummer, and Frank Barron is the keyboard and saxophone player.
(Jay Edwards starts playing onstage. He’s a solo act with a fantastic voice.)
BT: So you’ve been in the drink business a long time. What is so different about it 10 years later?
BR: Flavored Vodka.
BR: Yeah. Vodka is 70% of my liquor sales.
BT: What else?
BR: The 35-year-old-and-up crowd drinks less.
BT: But they’re drinking higher-end liquor now.
BR: Yeah, and when I used to be in the bar business, 3% of my transactions were credit card sales. Now it’s more than 60%.
BT: Where did the name Montego Bay come from? Is it based on the real Montego Bay in Jamaica?
BR: No. My wife and I used to play a club in Florida named Montego Bay, and had great memories of the place.
BT: What is your most fun part of the day?
BR: Getting on stage.
BT: What about the days that you don’t play?
BR: Cooking dinner.
BT: Do you have a favorite dish?
BR: Chicken Francese. I had an Italian upbringing so I learned how to cook and eat Italian.
BT: Are you guys running any promotions right now?
BR: Tuesday night, the Fred Astaire Dance Studio comes in and gives dance lessons. Usually Latin line dance. On Wednesdays, we’re running the Jose Cuervo guest bartender challenge, with 10% of the proceeds going to the Children’s Relief Fund of Hilton Head.
BT: Ok, now we’re getting to the fun stuff. If you could be any musical instrument, what would it be and why?
BR: I’d like to be a cello. Because it’s one of the most beautiful and emotional instruments in the orchestra. Plus, I would be handled by some of the most beautiful women, who just happen to be cello players.
BT: Favorite board game and why?
BR: Scrabble. It’s my wife’s favorite board game.
BT: Did she tell you to say that?
BR: A-B-S-O-L-U-T-E-L-Y, triple word score.
BT: Last question… Favorite Super Hero.
BR: Batman. Because he lived the life. He had all the toys, had a fast car, got the girl and saved the world. Does it get any better than that??
BT: Well, I’ll be back on Friday to see you play, and find out.