Kristin and Janel, Dino’s Lounge. Photo by Crystal Mae Muguerza
Women Behind Bars: Dino’s Kristin Bartolo
by Crystal Mae Muguerza
ON any given Friday or Saturday night, Dino’s bar owner Kristin Bartolo can be found behind the bar pouring drinks for customers.“I think [working behind the bar] gets me the closest to the customers,” Bartolo said, “When you go to other bars, you know who manages it, but you don’t know who owns it.”
“When I’m back there and people come in on really busy weekends, they don’t know I own the bar. I’m just somebody serving them drinks, and I love that, because I get to see what they really think about Dino’s.”
Bartolo first started working at Dino’s when she was 24 years old. Her father passed away a few years later, and Bartolo had to take over. She was 28.
“I was already running the bar then, but there were a lot of things I didn’t know. It was just a learning curve.”
Bartolo, now 42, has made the bar an even bigger success.
Dino’s has been in business for 51 years and has been at the same location since then.
Bartolo says the secret to her success is running Dino’s herself: “You can’t hire anybody that would care about [Dino’s] as much as [me]. This place is my heart and soul.”
“I do all my own paperwork, payroll ordering and I bartend on the weekends, because I want to be behind the bar.” Bartolo works at Dino’s weekday mornings and works behind the bar on the weekends. “I think if you want something to be successful, you better be here every day,” she said, “I want to know the customers. I’m friends with almost every single customer.”
Mike Post, a regular at Dino’s, can attest to that. “She not only knows her people, but she treats them great,” Post said. “The first time I came in here she didn’t know me, but she still treated me like I was her friend,” Post added. “You feel welcomed [at Dino’s]. We are a family.”
Bartolo created a special bond with her employees too. Janel Powell, a Dino’s employee for 31 years, says she loves working for Bartolo. “She’s more like my best friend than a boss,” Powell said. “She’s a friend to all of us.”
“There’s no dictatorship,” Bartolo said. “We all work together.”
Bartolo didn’t plan on running Dino’s, but she’s happy with how things turned out.
“I am so happy here,” she said. “I love my job. I feel like I’m really good at it.” With the recent development downtown, it’s easy to be forgotten among a crowd of
other bars, but Bartolo says she isn’t worried. “Every time [a bar] opens a little bit close to me, we feel it for a minute,” Bartolo admits, “Then they always come back.”
Bartolo said the expansion of downtown doesn’t hurt, but instead helps.
“It brings more people down here,” she said.
Bartolo says Dino’s has always been her constant focus. “I’m always looking for another bar, but it has to be the right one. At some point I might open another bar somewhere, but I would never let [Dino’s] go. I don’t think people love their business as much as I love [Dino’s],” Bartolo said, “I don’t know how to explain how much I love and hate it at the same time.”
“I’m going to run [Dino’s] until I die.”
Crystal Mae Muguerza is a UNLV Journalism major and was student in Mary Hausch’s Fall 2013 Advanced Reporting Class. She contributed the photographs accompanying this profile.
rev. February 17, 2014 | 16:25 PST