By Dale Madison
Tom Kauffman’s life is, in many ways, like the Beatles’ song, “The Long and Winding Road.”
Growing up in Rochester, New York (home of Eastman-Kodak), the talented BOOM Nightclub bartender dreamed of working for the world leader in film and camera production, and following graduation, he saw his dream fulfilled, being hired to join the industry giant’s construction and maintenance team.
“Some of the projects we developed had to be within 200 thousandths of an inch, to make sure that everything ran correctly. One project took nearly five years to complete,” remembers Kauffman. After the technological revolution of digital photo production, Kauffman found himself looking for gainful employment. “After 28 years [with Kodak], I started my own construction business. I was married—but was always ‘curious.’ I decided to go into a gay bar, and I realized that I was gay.”
Kauffman’s acceptance of his sexual identity brought him to patronize the largest leather bar in Rochester, the Bachelor Forum, a local LGBT landmark for 30 years. “I was there one night, and they were short-handed, so I started helping out with bar backing,” Kauffman recalls. “At closing, the owner asked, ‘What time can you be here tomorrow?’ I ended up on the bar very quickly, and was there for two years.”
The warm, intoxicating breezes of South Florida had been calling his name for some time, so in 2004 he packed up a U-Haul, and embarked for Fort Lauderdale. Arriving, he found employment in the local Levis-andleather scene at Scandals Saloon. “It was a great ride,” says Kauffman, “but then I had to have surgery on my wrists, and was no longer able to do the high/fast production that’s required at Scandals.”
It wasn’t long after his convalescence that Kauffman says he got a call from the management team at Boom. “They were beginning an early morning shift, opening at 9 a.m.,” he explains. “I am very much a morning person, and I enjoy that early morning crowd because I actually have an opportunity to converse, and I love getting to know the customers—so I jumped at the chance.”
Kauffman says his bar regulars— and new patrons who stroll through the Shoppes at Wilton Manors in the morning—are a big part of what makes his days consistently fun. “I have a great nucleus of regulars. Someone once asked me, ‘Who goes into a bar at 9 a.m.?’ I responded, “What if you are a night auditor, or work security and you get off at 7 a.m.—you stop and grab a bite to eat, and then it’s Happy Hour. Not everyone works from 9 to 5.”
You can catch Tom Kauffman behind the bar at Boom Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. His signature drink is the “Cocksucker.” (You can giggle.) He says to mix one ounce of Bailey’s® (or other Irish Cream), one ounce of butterscotch schnapps, and a splash of Southern Comfort. Bottoms up (or whatever your pleasure)!