The Work We Do: Donna Schmidt, Cuddy’s

My name is Donna Schmidt. I’m a bartender at Cuddy’s in South Jamesport and I’ve been here for about 12 years.

I’ve been bartending for 40 years. I went to college for journalism, actually, Bethany College in West Virginia.

I worked for a year at CBS television and I wasn’t making any money.

So I started bartending when I was about 22 years old. It just ended up being my forte. I love it. I love the people that I’m around.

They’ve all become more than customers. They’ve become really, really good friends. Sincerely, my kids both went to college and bartending helped pay for that, so I feel pretty good about that.

My favorite part of this place is that it’s become a home for so many people. There’s a lot of people who have lost loved ones and who are alone for the holidays, so we do a Friendsgiving the day after Thanksgiving, where I make a turkey and everyone brings in sides. So that way, no one is left out for the holidays. We’ve raised almost $3,000 for breast cancer just a few months ago. Everyone is so generous, which I’ve come to really love about the people who come in here.

They always say that a bartender is a psychologist, a sociologist, a little bit of a priest thrown in now and again, but you come to realize people have the same problems no matter what walk of life they are.

It’s just, everybody has so much respect for each other here and it’s a lovely, lovely thing.

It’s making them feel they have a home away from home.

Bartending used to be actually a profession. Now with the bartending schools and everybody’s just doing it on the side, it’s not really a profession anymore, which is really sad because 99 percent of bartending is personality to get to know people. It’s making them feel special, because the majority of people are.

“The Work We Do” is a News-Review multimedia project profiling workers around Riverhead Town. It is made possible by Peconic Landing in Greenport. See more photos on Instagram @riverheadnewsreview