Hey, Bartender!

Steve Carpentieri is a former VP of Citigroup. Around Westport though, the Staples grad is best known for his long ownership of Dunville’s — for 30 years Saugatuck’s version of Cheers.

Soon, moviegoers across the country will also know “Carpi.”

According to press notes for “Hey Bartender” — a new documentary written, directed and produced by Westporter Douglas Tirola — Dunville’s serves “both the working class and the white-collar communities of Westport, CT.”

Bartender logoHowever, “with the changing landscape of the economy, the industry, and the town, Dunville’s went from being the ‘it’ bar in town to a place trying to stay successful.”

Both his business and personal life cause stress. Carpi’s dream of running a bar is never easy.

The film — which more broadly examines bartenders “and the cocktail culture” — premiered at South By Southwest Film Festival in March. It opens tonight at New York’s Village East, spreads soon to LA, then rolls out nationwide.

Doug — a Staples grad who earned an MFA at Columbia — had to shoot at Dunville’s without intruding on the crowded, lively bar. He wanted to let Carpi’s life “unfold in real time, right in front of the camera,” while allowing audiences to experience the life of a bartender.

The wet hands, cutting fruit, mixing cocktails, dealing with regulars (and drunks), counting tips, getting people out the door at the end of the night — it’s all there in “Hey Bartender.”

Doug’s goal was to show what drives people to become bartenders; how they fit into their community, and how their lives (and communities) are changing.

(From left) Steve Carpentieri, Susan Bedusa and Doug Tirola at the "Hey Bartender" premiere.

(From left) Steve Carpentieri, Susan Bedusa and Doug Tirola at the “Hey Bartender” premiere.

Here’s a review from IndieWire:

Because of the history involved in the major-league-level cocktail mixing — the drinks and techniques themselves often have a kind of Gilded-Age air about them — there’s a lot of fashion in “Hey Bartender.”

What’s probably good is that Tirola shows the other side of the bar biz — Steve Carpentieri, who owns a joint in Westport, Conn., called Dunville’s, is struggling: Drinking is down, drunk-driving penalties are up, and his kind of local watering hole is an endangered species (there’s a great scene of Carpentieri quashing a bar-fight-to-be and imposing tough love on a couple of unruly regulars). So he starts exploring the idea of transforming his place into a more cocktail-oriented establishment, which of course enables Tirola (and us) to tag along.

In addition to Carpi and Doug, local connections include Westporter (and Staples grad) Susan Bedusa. She’s a vice president of 4th Row Films, “Hey Bartender”‘s producer.

A bit more of a stretch: Commentary comes from Danny Meyer, owner of our town’s Shake Shack (among others).

If you’ve never been to Dunville’s — or haven’t been for a while — this movie may make you want to visit Westport’s own Cheers.

Based on previews, big-time mixologists and bartenders have already headed there.

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2 responses to “Hey, Bartender!

  1. Maggie Mudd

    When will we get a chance to see this around here?

  2. Ilene Mirkine

    July 10th at the Avon Theater in Stamford…complete with a post-film Q & A!