Down-on-his-luck San Diego musician Adam Stemmler turned to bartending, hoping to make a steady income.

But landing a bartending job in southern California wasn’t easy. After all, who wants to hire a bartender with no experience?

“When I showed up with my resume, the general manager quickly told me that they never hire bartenders off the street,” Stemmler recalls. “I smiled and said that I would check back in two weeks.”

And he continued to go back every two weeks for months. “After my sixth or seventh visit, the general manager said, ‘Wow, you really do want to work here, don’t you?’”

He was offered a one-night-only shift during New Year’s Eve–if he promised to never step foot in the bar again and leave the general manager alone afterward. But one foot in the door was all Stemmler needed to become a permanent member of the bar staff.

Bar Owner Adam Stemmler

Bar Owner Adam Stemmler

This unwavering persistence and diligence helped Stemmler work his way to eventual bar ownership. His experience as a bartender advanced him to becoming a bar manager then opening East Bay Spice Company, a leading Northern California bar that serves Northern Indian inspired fare.

“Whether it’s washing oleo sacrum with fresh-pressed turmeric juice, adding biryani masala to salt mixtures for glass rims, or infusing vermouth with fenugreek, we do our best to honor the tradition of heavy spice used in Indian cuisine via our bar program,” Stemmler explains.

East Bay Spice Cocktail

East Bay Spice Cocktail

For Stemmler, finding success in the bar industry requires a lot of persistence, diligence, and a little bit of luck. Thanks to winning an Alameda County liquor license lottery, East Bay Spice Company was able to upgrade to a full bar.

Now a figurehead in East Bay cocktail culture, Stemmler looks at his role as a bar owner as a way to give back to aspiring bartenders.

“We are a neighborhood establishment that does our best to service the incredibly diverse community of Berkeley and the greater East Bay, while still having fun and not taking ourselves too seriously. In my eyes, my job is to mentor young service industry professionals and keep them from making all the unnecessary mistakes I’ve made at various points in my career.”