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Meet Theresa Bryan of Happy Hopping Bartending in North County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Theresa Bryan.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
After spending what was supposed to be only a year or so in Baja, Mexico trying to figure out what to do with my life after the full time wife- kids thing, I returned four years later with a surf board under one arm and a brand new outlook on life and attitude. I was ready to go back to work in the big world of the food and beverage industry and live in San Diego near my children. What I got was an expedious reality slap to the face. I was now out of my forties and hadn’t had a full time job since the birth of my first born. I spent an entire year in an excruciating process of trying to sell myself to a computer program that got to decide if the words in my resume would put me into a pile of prospects of a recruiters desk, to fill the spare time during the demotivating job search tasks I picked up a paintbrush and began painting to release my stress that I worked so hard to purge in Mexico.

To my surprise that worked and as a bonus I rediscovered a talent that had been dormant for many years. I began selling my surf art at art fairs, local cafes and surf shops and banks of all places but you know the saying about art, “It’s a tough sell” and I wasn’t selling enough to pay the bills. I didn’t want to start the process of the job hunt again. I enjoyed the freedom of working when I wanted, where I wanted to and how much I wanted. The idea of slinging spiked Slurpees at Dave and Busters was not appealing anymore. I finally sat my ass down and wrote down three things that I was proud of career wise during the span of my life. Number one; General Manager of the Improv Comedy Club in San Francisco at the age of 28. Number two; stock trader at a major brokerage firm, and three my art. That is how Happy Hopping Bartending began, a merging of all of my life best moments so that I could be my own boss and do all the things that I’ve had a passion for in the past.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The first thing that I had to do was B.S. my way into the first few jobs having had no mobile bartending experience as of yet. I went to Thumbtack and Gigsalad and other sites that people go to find carpenters or belly dancer or party clowns and I set up a hyperbolized profile page as a mobile bartending service and began the mundane process of responding to every bartending or event staffing job posting almost as fast as they were posted for fear of not getting the gig. I have to be at my computer or phone all day for when that tinging sound of a Thumbtack request comes in I want to be the first to respond.

The first few BS derived jobs turned into more authentic hirings because I received the “for real” five star reviews and photos to back up my business. Trying to figure out who the competition was, what they were quoting for gigs and trying to win the jobs was something I expected but I didn’t think it would remain unsolved after so long. My competition on these sites were faceless and so were their quotes. I only knew that I didn’t get hired and someone else did and that end frustration was what really pushed me into a different type of bartending business. Trying to sneak a peak into the head of the potential client to figure out what was wrong with my quote and why did they go with bartender A instead of me was exhausting so, I just stopped.

My website was impeccable and showcases my artistic side, my prices are in the middle range, I had nothing but 5 star reviews, I have gorgeous photos that back up my reputation but in the end I can only represent myself as me and hope that it’s enough. To better know my competitors I decided that I had to pull another BS story and I posed as a bride-to-be looking for a bartender and many other services for my reception. I called all of the competitors in the San Diego area with my B.S story to see how they structure their prices and how they conducted themselves when helping a potential client. I was blown away with the wide range, some completely unjustified of prices and services offered. So that left me to figure out how to stay in the middle range and offer more intimate and personalized services not a company that throws a quote out for standardized service with marked up prices.

Trying to get clients to actually sit and write reviews is a delicate matter. I can’t be too naggy about it but I also need to be too naggy. Getting on Yelp and Google without sacrificing my IRA and dignity is an impossibility at this point. I have to spend money to make money is something I didn’t think of when I started this. Happy Hopping Bartending is young and I have many ideas of how to make it shape and grow so The IRA might stay in place for now.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Happy Hopping Bartending – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Happy Hopping Bartending is a small boutique style mobile bartending and staffing company. I specialize in weddings and private parties small and large. I really dig into my creative side in almost every aspect of providing a memorable bar experience. I have a collection of decor and unconventional items that I used in conventional ways to make the bar a talking point and a place to get a stellar cocktail. I creatively come up with new cocktails name them personally for the occasion and take my artistry and make beautiful hand scripted signs. I make my own ingredients for cocktails to really bring out brilliant flavors.

I will go to any length to work with a client to make sure what I provide them is an experience not just a service. I go out of my way to bring with me little touches that lend to the ambiance of the event. I am well known for my infused water stations. I choose unique blends of fruits, herbs and flora to create a beautiful area to keep your guests well hydrated with refreshing and flavorful waters, iced teas or lemonades all hand made. I am always on the hunt for a unique time that I can use to replace a standard piece of bartending equipment to make it stand out.

In the end I photograph every vantage point of the bar and are them available to the client if so desired. I am more than a bartending service that can pour a shot or a glass of wine. I create my beverages and their ingredients, I have a dedicated group of bartenders who know my strict standards and I personally put my heart and soul into making every event I book is a successful and memorable one. I don’t have a form to fill out to determine the client’s needs I have hours and hours of conversations to do that.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I am on the cusp of trying to figure out how big I want to be. I don’t want to sacrifice all of the personalized attention that comes with expansion and growth. I could take a back seat and do all of the planning to keep the standards high and intimate personalization intact but then, I wouldn’t be on the front side watching all of the clients guests enjoying themselves and seeing the smiles on the faces of my clients after seeing what I have created for them. Growth is inevitable. I need to decide when and how big. As of now I’m happy with the increase of business as it hasn’t taken away from my standards.


  • Bartender hourly rates are $35.00/hour
  • Bar rental and custom decor is by item start at $175.00
  • Infused water station start at $150.00
  • Server staff hourly rates $30.00/hour

Contact Info:


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1 Comment

  1. Christian Buhl

    November 4, 2017 at 12:59 am

    Congratulations Theresa!
    Those were fun years in Baja
    Looks like there is a # missing in your telephone number……..check it

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