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O'Hara Atria's bartender glad to be back

| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 7:21 p.m.

Andrew Wood, known to most as “Woody,” is back at work at Atria's in O'Hara.

He has been the bartender at the tavern for five years — not counting the recent break.

When Woody walked into the local eatery and bar at the beginning of January, he found 8 inches of water flooding the establishment because frozen pipes had exploded overnight,

When he walked back through the front doors last week, there was a new look — stone walls and smooth mahogany-look trim create a restful, modern look.

Woody said there are minor menu changes and a new management team, but overall, coming back to work remains the same for him.

“About 90 percent of the job is serving guests and 10 percent is making drinks,” he said.

Woody tries to find common ground with his patrons. His golden rule is to treat others the way he would want to be treated.

“With the initial dialogue, you get a feeling for what the client wants,” Woody said.

Some patrons prefer a formal attitude. Returning customers typically find casual, more friendly responses acceptable.

Sometimes, well-known people settle down at his bar.

“People with a certain level of celebrity: Treat them the way you would anyone else,” Woody said.

He credits the training program at the restaurant and practice for honing the skills necessary in his job.

“I'm constantly learning every day,” Woody said. “There will constantly be new situations.”

Woody said he never ignores a mistake. He recognizes it, apologies and makes changes.

Woody has learned a lot in eight years of restaurant work. He started at Atria's six years ago in the kitchen. Although he enjoys cooking, he relishes meeting people, so he moved to serving and stepped behind the bar.

“I like to socialize — especially being in this community. I get to see people I wouldn't normally,” he said.

Woody grew up in the area and graduated from Fox Chapel Area High School in 2002. After graduating from college with a degree in history and international relations, he considered going to graduate school.

Instead, he enjoys the subjects of his college studies as an avocation. He keeps up with current events by watching programs on PBS, such as “Charlie Rose,” and other “solid news.” Reading history remains an interest.

Enjoying his work and his time off, Woody takes advantage of all his hometown has to offer.

One of his pastimes is hiking in nearby parks, such as Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve. The young man also checks out hot spots such as Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood, for “new ideas.”

He is at home in Blawnox and his home is about a 10-minute walk from where his parents live. He visits them at least twice a week.

While he considers Atria's the best place he has worked and is thankful for the training it has provided, he credits his parents for giving him the real basics for working with others.

Sharon Drake is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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