RICHMOND, Va. -- Katie Stuart is a TikTok star. The bar manager of Richmond restaurant Foo Dog, in the Fan, has more than 170,000 followers on the social media app. While Stuart joined TikTok in 2019, she was able to focus more on content creation when she was stuck at home during the early days of the pandemic.
"The lockdown happened and I didn't have a job anymore," Stuart said. "I was stuck inside with my roommate who was also a bartender. So, it was a way for me to pass the time and stay creative."
Using the handle BarDaddy_, a nickname she earned behind the bar at now-defunct Richmond restaurant Fatty Smokes, Stuart posted drink recipes and funny skits to keep herself and her growing fan base entertained.
"It was a hobby at first," she said. "Now it's a whole tax form. Now it's a responsibility. I have contracts. I have deadlines. Stuff that I never really expected to happen."
Brands reach out to Katie now, hoping she will review their product or create a recipe using their spirit.
It seems to be working as Bar Daddy fans have been known to show up at Foo Dog to meet their favorite TikTok bartender in real life.
"On Friday I had three people at the bar and they were just staring at me. And they're like, 'Can we ask you a weird question? We love your Tiktok and we want to know if we could take a picture with you?' I was like, you guys came here because of my TikTok? And they're like, 'Yeah, that's where we found you.'"
The Randolph Macon graduate uses their psychology degree to try and read guests as they approach the bar to better meet their needs.
"Body language says a lot," Stuart shared. "When somebody sits at the bar, they're either looking for our conversation or just wants to eat and leave. So it really depends if people maintain eye contact or if people's sentences are short."
Stuart's approach seems to be working. In addition to the growing TikTok following, Stuart has been named among the best bartenders in Richmond by the readers of Style magazine.
Learn much more about Katie "Bar Daddy" Stuart on this episode of Eat It, Virginia!
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