|Posing with a "Rabbit" and a "Bunny" at
the Playboy Club in New York CIty
|Kellie works as a
|USFL Orlando Renegades'
"Cheerleader of the year"
|AC, Kellie and Kat pose in
their tailor-made uniforms
at an exclusive party for
Madonna in Los Angeles.
Having also been a Playboy Bunny (the
waitress with ears and a tail) in Columbus,
Ohio, Kellie was hired as a bartender at the
new Playboy Empire Club in New York City.
This was the first and last Playboy Club
that employed "rabbits," the male version
of the "bunnies." The elite of New York
City's modeling and acting youth were
hired. Many went on to be successful
models, actors and musicians. Though
Kellie loved New York City and her job at
the Playboy Empire Club, she could not
endure another winter in the city.
Finally, Kellie landed in Los Angeles to drink in the warmth of the California sun. To her surprise, she struggled to
find a bartending job. The owner of one very popular restaurant even laughed at her when applying for a
bartending position and said that he would let her be a cook. Her feelings were hurt, but her resolve was greater.
She knew that she had already proven herself at some of the country's most successful nightclubs and she was
very surprised that Los Angeles seemed to have such antiquated attitudes towards the thought of a female
bartender. Though she wasn't about to give up, she was shocked when she was hired at possibly the most
successful, celebrity-packed nightclub ever in Los Angeles, Vertigo.
Brothers Jim and Nick Colachis, creators of the popular Highlands
Nightclub, and Mario Oliver, who dated Princess Stephanie of Monaco at
the time, were the power-house promoters of Vertigo. They changed the
entire nightclub scene in Los Angeles. Within months, the owners built
a bar designed by Kellie and placed her front and center of the nightclub.
She gleefully had cracked the boys' club of bartenders in Los Angeles
and was noted as the first female nightclub bartender in Los Angeles.
Though she denies that this may or may not be true, she certainly
does remember the discrimination she experienced when first seeking
employment in Los Angeles.
For 25 years Kellie worked in the nightclubs, bars and restaurants of Los Angeles
alongside some of "the most phenomenal people." She says that bartending has given
her the opportunity to pursue many dreams, including working at William Morris Agency
(one of Hollywood's most powerful entertainment agencies). She also graduated
from the two-year program of the study of Meisner at the Joanne Baron/D.W. Brown
Acting Studio, where Dustin Hoffman spoke at the graduation ceremony. Then she
played the role of Kelly, secretary to the revered Deidre Hall, for two years on the
daytime soap opera, "Days of Our Lives." See video here: Days
Kellie has also been in various management positions from early on in her career, but
always gravitated towards the fast pace of bartending. Having been a popular face
in the bartending community for so many years, Kellie is often called upon for her
expertise as a bar consultant. Through Bar Bizz consulting company, she trains bar staff
and bar owners all over Southern California, setting the highest standards for the
industry. The bartender turned cocktail coach uses simple methods of instruction that
can turn anyone into a professional.
Her wealth of knowledge is invaluable and has helped many novices understand a
business that is like no other. Her classes have been successful for the past 12
years and sometimes have a waiting list. Now working with JER Group, Kellie's series of
bartending classes are offered online at colleges nationwide.
Finally, achieving her ultimate career goal, Kellie has developed her own company,
Grandma Gillie'sTM (www.grandmagillie.com), which began with Grandma Gillie's
Gourmet Goodies®, making cookies, cakes and sweets for many television shows.
Then, she went on to write the children's book, "Grandma Gillie's Lessons of Love."
The latest branch of her company and, thus far, the most successful is Grandma Gillie's
Greetings®, a line of greeting cards and magnets. Additionally, she took over Cards
With a Heart (www.cardswithheart.org), a company known nationally, which prints
greeting cards and offers other fund raisers for nonprofit organizations.
As a motivational speaker, Kellie has been asked to speak before groups and also holds
life-changing seminars (www.findyourexcellence.com) at local Los Angeles colleges.
She was surprised when one of the stars of a popular soap opera showed up at one of
her classes. Using her life coaching experience she has also created a premium
workshop called "Find Your Excellence." Often called a "tough cookie," Kellie says that
she is most proud of her ability to survive in a business that tried to oust her from the
beginning and was once strictly a man's world. Discrimination, physical knocks, verbal
abuse and sexual harassment didn't stop Kellie Nicholson from following her heart. Now
she takes great pleasure in helping others do the same.
Update:: Kellie Nicholson has composed a collection of stories by women who have used
fierce courage to overcome great challenges and obstacles
Kellie Nicholson began to work as a cocktail waitress for extra money while
attending Ohio State University on an academic scholarship. When offered a
position as a bartender in a new nightclub about to open, she refused, stating that
it was a "boy's job." After being promised that it was a better job and that she would
make more money, Kellie agreed to give it a try. The idea of female bartenders was
still quite novel at that time, 30 years ago, but Kellie excelled and found that she
loved the job. Suffering from insomnia, this type of employment also suited Kellie's
At 22, she moved to Orlando, Florida and secured a job at the most popular and
successful nightclub, J.J. Whispers. There, she was also a professional cheerleader
for the USFL Orlando Renegades, a now defunct football league that propelled the
careers of greats like Doug Flutie. During that first season of the new league, Kellie
was also named "Cheerleader of the Year" and featured in magazines, television
commercials and the local TV show, PM MAGAZINE. The recognition flowed over
into her night-time employment, where she was often asked to sign autographs.
Being a female bartender was still a new thing and, she found in Orlando, frowned
upon by her male co-workers. Not one to cower when challenged, Kellie held her
own and eventually won over her peers to become respected as an equal before she
moved on to New York City.
Orange Coast Colllege
East LA College
|Bartending at Vertigo is a career highlight.
LA Harbor College
LA Valley College
Rio Hondo College
Santa Monica College
San Joaquin Delta College
College of the Dessert
City College of San Francisco
JER Group (JER Online)-national online college courses
People always want to know how I got started bartending, especially when I went to college on an academic scholarship. Well, I asked a
bartender friend of mine to put my story into words and below is a summary of what she came up with. Read on, if you care. Try not to
laugh at the pictures. I thought I looked good at the time. --- Kellie
El Camino College
LA City College
West LA College
Irvine Valley College
Santa Ana College
Bar Bizz the business of hospitality
Riverside Community College