ServEm, a smartphone app that allows bar-goers to rank bartenders, launched on January 17 in the iTunes store. Its founders, Brian, Frank, and Kevin Farrington (brothers), plus their family friend Eric Pomeroy, are Dobbs Ferry natives with Silicon Valley ambitions. We caught up with Brian Farrington, 25, to learn about the app and hear about its progress thus far.
Here’s how it works: You download the app from the iTunes store (it’s not available on any other platforms yet), and on, say, a Friday night when you’re looking to hit the town, ServEm shows you not only the bars in your area, but also the bartenders working there. Bartenders are rated and reviewed by users, so you can compare your options and decide on the night’s destination based on who will be concocting your drink. Bartender profiles tell you the bartender’s typical work schedule, and a newsfeed function (currently under review by Apple) will allow bartenders to post updates—which will appear on the newsfeeds of users within 10 miles—to entice users to come to their bar.
“The bartender-patron relationship is the backbone of local bars, what drives the bars on a daily basis,” says Farrington. So ServEm aims to capitalize on this relationship, empowering bartenders to build their own following. “As a bartender, you’re able to promote yourself and make your shift behind the bar your own little business, so it benefits bar tenders as well as bar owners, Farrington explains.
Farrington conceived the idea during baseball season: He wanted nothing more than a cold beer and to talk baseball with the guy or gal pouring it, but he didn’t know where to go. He brought the dilemma (and the business idea) up to his brothers and Pomeroy at a Dobbs Ferry football game last October. Everyone got on board, fast—they quickly split up start-up tasks and pooled resources to hire a company to design the app’s back end.
Today the app has more than 500 users concentrated in the Dobbs Ferry area. (In case you’re wondering, the highest-rated bartenders, according to ServEm, are “Gerald L” at the Cedar Street Grill and “John C” at Doubledays.) Farrington is optimistic based on what he saw as the “organic” growth of ServEm in Dobbs Ferry. In the early stages, Farrington wants to be able to verify that the bartenders who sign up are legitimate, and he’s hoping growth will come through social media channels and word of mouth.
Future plans? Expansion, of course. “We’re analyzing what we’ve been doing in Dobbs Ferry and we’re in preliminary talks with a few pocket areas in NYC,” says Farrington. Next stop is the Upper East Side and then, hopefully, down to Midtown.