“I like the social aspect of it,” Tim Cooney says while appropriately having a cocktail with me. He is the owner of Simply Cocktails, which provides bartending Services for weddings and events in Santa Barbara, Montecito, Santa Ynez, Goleta and the surrounding cities. “I was shy and an introvert growing up,” he shares. “Bartending loosened me up. I’ve gotten to know everybody in town.” The latter fact is not an exaggeration. While interviewing Tim, we are repeatedly interrupted by people coming over to say hello. He’s gregarious and affable — with everyone.
His parents are from Santa Barbara, but he was born in San Francisco. They came back when he was 3 years old. He attended San Marcos High School and went to UCSB on a soccer scholarship. “I was bartending while going to school and was offered a job running “The Tank,” he recalls. He became the general manager of the then popular establishment on State Street. “It was my first jump into management,” he says. His parents talked him into leaving school for he wasn’t taking it very seriously. “I went to school for athletics, and I didn’t parlay that into a good experience,” he explains. “I hated Isla Vista, and I needed a change.” Besides, he enjoyed working in the restaurant business, which became his true calling.
Eventually he owned his own nightclub called “Cooney’s.” This was around the time his wife was expecting their first child. From “Cooney’s,” he went to “Holdren’s” for 7 years as bar manager as well as filling in as bartender some nights at Tonic.
He states that Santa Barbara has a great service industry. All bars are friends with one another. “It’s a real tight service community,” he professes. “We all know each other and we all visit each other. We all pull in for each other. We all become family.”
But as his family grew, the long night hours proved hard for Tim. “I was one of the oldest late night bartenders in town,” he admits. “There are not too many 40 year old night club bartenders in town.” So he started to look for other means of work and Simply Cocktails was born. He’d always done friend’s weddings and thought that would be a natural fit for him. The business took off faster than he imagined. “It started with a few events at a time,” he says. “Last summer I was doing 3 to 4 weddings a weekend.” He was also able to capitalize on the fact that weddings and events in Santa Barbara have grown so much in the past years. “Santa Barbara is a great destination wedding location,” he elaborates. “I work with five different wedding coordinators in town who keep me busy.” Tim also manages all of the bars at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s different events. “We’re more than serving –- we’re entertaining,” he confides. “We get to know people and create relationships.
This former late night shift bartender tells me he has to head home to spend time with the family before they go to bed. He chimes in “The beauty of my job is going out to great places instead of being stuck behind a bar.”
Tim answers the Proust Questionnaire.
Where would you most like to live?
Santa Barbara. I’ve never left. The relationships I’ve built here, and family and friends near by make Santa Barbara the best place in the world!
What is your current state of mind?
Excited, motivated. I absolutely love Simply Cocktails. It has grown faster than I could have ever imagined, and I love my job! We are currently expanding, and traveling all over to do parties. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for us! To have a job that I am in love with, and that gives me the flexibility to be an active part in my kids everyday lives is a really amazing.
What do you like most about your job?
I like throwing parties, always have. To be a part of a team, along with an event planner, a caterer, a DJ, etc., and to put together a great party is very rewarding.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I love doing things with my kids. Camping, snowboarding, sports. Or golfing with buddies, it’s my escape from kids and work.
What is your greatest fear?
Losing a child. I’ve seen it happen to too many people and can’t imagine the strength it takes to move on. I have a lot of respect and admiration for those who have had this happen.
Who do you most admire?
I can’t think of any one person. I love sports and think that they teach so many great life lessons, so I am going to say I admire great COACHES. A great coach, not just in sports, but in all aspects of life, plays a huge role in the development of our children and of future generations. I have been lucky enough to have some great coaches who have helped and influenced my life so many times, and they continue to help if I need anything today.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I would have to say it would be my golfing. I love golf, the game, the friends you play with, and the amazing beauty of a golf course. It can be very expensive playing amazing courses, but it’s all worth it to me. The time I spend golfing is my happy place.
What is the quality you most like in people?
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
Arrogance. I believe to be great at something you have to have an air of confidence, almost cocky, but you must have a humble side
What do you most value in friends?
Having your back. I have so many great friends that I can go to with anything whenever I need it. I’m very blessed to have a lot of awesome people in my life!
What is your most marked characteristic?
My fun, energetic personality. Being the life of the party!
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Funny question. I think you can say I’ve been known to “beat a dead horse” depending on the situation or the friends I’m with. “SEAAA-hawks!!”
Which talent would you most like to have?
Being from Santa Barbara, I’m kinda bummed I never got into surfing
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Be more organized. My ADD kills me sometimes.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Being a good Dad — it’s something I’m constantly working on.
What is your most treasured possession?
I really don’t have anything in particular or material.
What / Who makes you laugh the most?
My kids. They can also bring me to tears
What is your motto?
Enjoy life! Life is a party!
On what occasion do you lie?
When I have pocket A’s sitting at the poker table!