Talking with the People of The People's Last Stand about Cocktails, Panic and PB&J's
Kartik Rathore, Alex Fletcher and Jordan Ladd at The People's Last Stand
Kartik Rathore opened The People's Last Stand in Mockingbird Station more than a year ago, and the foremost concept was it would be an upscale bar serving high-quality drinks. It was his first endeavor in the restaurant and bar business and he admittedly had a hard time in the beginning. While the drinks were a success, the kitchen suffered and customers noticed.
But, Rathore has learned lot in one year. Along with chef Jordan Ladd and general manager and bartender Alex Fletcher, they feel they've finally hit a stride.
I sat down with the three this week to talk shop. A recent event at Sissy's Southern Fried Chicken, Shake for Second Base, came up and I told them about an amazing drink I had made with an añejo tequila:
It took the bartender several minutes to make it and she was doing all these things and when she set it on the bar, I said, "That's it?" The words just stumbled out and I felt badly. But, then a few minutes later I realized I was nursing the best drink I've ever had...
Kartik: It's funny that you say that because we often get reactions like that too. It takes some time to make these drinks and put it in that little cup and hand it to someone, they're always like "That's it?" Thankfully, they're usually surprised at how good it is.
Alex: Dallas has gotten much more accustomed to classic cocktails.
What was your first bar job, Alex?
Alex: Over a decade ago, I started as a bar back at the Quarter Bar and was there for six years, then Barcadia, The Dubliner, Three Sheets, Beauty Bar and now here.
How has the Dallas drinking scene changed in that time?
Alex: In my first five years of tending bar, I heard someone order a proper Old Fashioned maybe twice. And now, it's our best selling drink. It outsells vodka and Miller Lite. Trend-wise, flavored vodkas and stuff are still around in some bars, but a lot of people are going back to spirits.
Kartik: I think it's really interesting how many places have cocktails on their menu now. That's a result of what so many places like Cedars [Social], Tate's, Standard Pour, they're kind of raising the expectations of customers.
What did you do before you opened a bar, Kartik?
Kartik: I had a corporate job.
Seems like the easy thing to do would have been to open a spot that caters to the surrounding clientele. So, why a high-end cocktail restaurant and bar on the fringe of the SMU campus?
Kartik: Well, I thought we were going to get a lot of the SMU crowd. But, when we got into it and brought in this great team, it quickly evolved into something that crowd isn't going after.
It's hard to do high-end drinks and high-end food together. Only a few are able to pull it off, like Cedars Social.
Kartik: Well, we know that if we want to double our business, we could run beer specials all night, and we'll make a lot of money, but that's not who we want to be. And we never really wanted to be in the restaurant business, and at first we didn't really pay attention to the food. But, when we started seeing a lot of the reviews, they all said we had great drinks, but not food. So, our attention shifted.