AUBURN — Every Monday, Margaritas restaurant has a standing night of entertainment: “Karaoke with DJ Rob and singing bartender.”
Andrea Bennett is that singing bartender.
She’s worked at the restaurant since 1997. Bennett sings at least three times a night, and sometimes she’ll kick things off at 9 p.m. when they need kicking off.
“I do a lot of duets with customers,” said Bennett, a mom of three and a Lewiston High School grad from the class of 1997. “Pretty much, this is my hobby. This is kind of my night out.”
Find out how this former sufferer of stage fright got her start.
Name: Andrea Bennett
Lives: Born and raised in Lewiston
You used to have stage fright and yet you proposed the singing bartender idea — gutsy. How did that work? Growing up I use to sing in church and also did a few talent shows across Maine during my teenage years. I remember the last time I was on stage and completely forgetting the words, which was nerve racking! So karaoke enabled me to conquer the fear of forgetting the words but still gave me an opportunity to do what I feel is my dream and passion.
So about three years ago now, my co-worker and bff Tricia Alexander and I were looking for a way to bump up business at Margaritas on a night that wasn’t normally very busy. Being in the restaurant business, as anyone knows, our weekend nights are typically Sunday, Monday and Tuesday because people in our industry are usually required to work the busier Friday and Saturday nights. We proposed the idea to our district manager and told him to give us a month and if he didn’t notice a significant difference then he could pull the plug. Plus, I thought it would be really fun to do what I love to do while working. The first couple times were scary and believe it or not, I still get nervous in front of people from time to time even after doing it for so long, but I do feel that you can pretty much always channel your nerves into positive energy. Whether good or not so good, it enables people to be a rock star for a few minutes and just plain makes you happy.
Do you have a signature song? I am a HUGE Adele fan so anything of hers I love! “Someone Like You” would have to be my favorite if I had to choose.
Most requested tunes? “Midnight Train To Georgia” by Gladys Knight, “Stay” by Sugarland and “Strawberry Wine” by Deana Carter.
Song you could go a million years without singing again: One time my friend Ron and I did “I Run To You” by Lady Antebellum with no practice. Let’s just say we couldn’t stop laughing to get through the song.
You’ve listened to hundreds step up to the mic. How would you judge L-A’s pipes? I would honestly say that we have some of the best vocalists in the area in our lounge for sure.
Do we seem to favor country, rock, rap, ballads? Ballads and country are definitely the top genres that I see on a regular basis.
Any particular customers stand out? I would say that “Fabio” stands out quite a bit. He’s a lot of fun and brings in his own “bag of tricks” or props if you will. His name says it all — he is fabulous. Then there is always that guy that comes in and sings Britney Spears . . . I think we all know someone like this. A few years ago now, when we first started, I remember this one guy sang “Come Sail Away” and did the exact version that Cartman did on “South Park” and sounded identical to him. That was a classic. He was definitely the hit of the night that night!
Ever get your kids singing along with you at home? Oh, yes. I am a single mother of three, so singing when I clean is a ritual in my home. Logan, who is 9, doesn’t really care to sing, but Tyler, 6, loves to sing and loves to go carolling during Christmastime. My daughter Ava is 4 and practices all the time. She has her own microphone and usually is caught singing Justin Bieber’s “Baby” song. I definitely plan on encouraging them to follow their dreams whether it be singing or anything else that they want to do.