Despite being panned by film critics, “Coyote Ugly” holds a special place in many millennials' hearts thanks to its capsule collection of 90's outfits and, of course, the outrageous antics that had the female servers dancing on bars and pouring drinks in the movie.

For Skarlit Mazur, the main character’s journey of coming from a small town to New York to pursue a career in music also echoed her story.

“She came to the city on her own,” Mazur said. “She was like, 'I'm going to do this. I don’t need help from anybody.' I guess I take a lot of inspiration from that because that's what I did. You know, that's what I'm doing, like right now.”

It’s what drew her to work as a bartender at the newest location of Coyote Ugly Saloon in Manhattan's East Village. The original location of the legendary bar, which has since grown into an international chain, is what served as inspiration for the cult classic. Its establishments still draw tourists and locals alike.

“It just goes back to the basics of what Coyote Ugly is: women empowerment, dancing on the bar, the crazy party,” said Coyote Ugly Saloon regional manager Lizzie Jones. “I always like to say there’s never a dull moment.”

Jones herself started as a bartender at the Oklahoma City location and eventually worked her way up the corporate chain. While the notoriety of the chain has always ensured customers, Jones is facing a new issue: service industry worker shortages.

“Everyone went from having no jobs to so many jobs, and people finding that balance within their lives, as far as going back to having one, two, three jobs or hours,” she said. “You know, supply and demand.”

From January through May of this year, restaurants listed 92 percent more "workers wanted" postings than in that period of 2018 and 2019 according to job market analytics firm Burning Glass, per The New York Times.

Service industry jobs, especially working as waiters and bartenders, aren’t simple tasks. To work at Coyote Ugly, you not only have to serve drinks and food but also sing and dance for customers. Even professional dancer Sophia Michitson had to undergo the mandatory one-week dance bootcamp and perform her routines on the bar before getting the green light to work as a bartender.

“We still have dance practices one or two times a month so that we keep the dances perfected,” Michitson said.

It’s all a lot harder than it looks, she explained, especially because you’re both an entertainer and a bartender throughout the entire shift.

“Before I was like, "Their job is so easy, like serving food," but it's actually a lot of work,” Michitson said. “It can be really stressful and overwhelming, which you don't realize.”

Shift lead Mesha Green, who has worked for the Coyote Ugly Saloon chain for seven years, says the job is worth it. She visited the place once during college, fell in love, applied to work there, and now is one class shy of completing her master’s degree partially thanks to her career at the bar.

“What makes this place special is the ability to empower you to be strong, and to get people to also [be strong], so when they walk into this non-judgmental space, you could have a good time and also make new friends,” she said.

Mazur encourages anyone brave enough to give it a shot.

“If you feel like you have that gall to get up here and dance on a bar, and try and inspire others to get up and dance on this bar, and cheer people up when they're having a bad day, just come in,” she said. “Just try it out.” 

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