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Monday, February 29, 2016

Pam Sandoz: Professor of Pours

by Blair Loup

Many things have changed around LSU’s campus over the years, but some things remain sacred. Slinky’s has held its residence on Chimes Street for 17 years. Home to the Lunch Box drop shot and underwear-ridden rafters, bar owner Pam Sandoz says each item on the walls has a story to tell, and she has more than a few.

Pam Sandoz, owner of Slinky's
Pam Sandoz, owner of Slinky's

Pam grew up in a Cajun family full of attorneys in Abbeville, Louisiana. Following in her family’s footsteps, she pursued a law degree at LSU. Like so many college students do, Pam entered the service industry bartending at different establishments. Little did she know that cutting her teeth behind the bar would be the start of a long lasting love affair.

“Somewhere along the way, I realized I could take my favorite college job and turn it into my career and kind of avoid growing up,” Pam said.

Anyone who hangs out with Pam in her bar for an extended period of time will notice her grandmother’s huge influence on her. Her grandmother was a medical professional, and after a long day of work at the hospital, she’d host famous eight course dinner parties. With a reputation for constantly entertaining, it’s not hard to see where Pam’s love of people and conversation stems from.

It takes a special kind of person to weather the service industry. At 25, Pam realized she had officially found her calling and opened Slinky’s with her then boyfriend, and she’s been holding the keys since 1999.

On the surface, Slinky’s may look like another dive bar serving up simple mixed drinks and Michelob Ultras, but upon closer examination, you’ll notice two refrigerators full of craft beer and the bartender slinging creative whiskey cocktails.

I’ll admit, I was a little thrown off. I didn’t expect to see much beyond a couple of Louisiana craft brews. Shame on me! As it turns out, Pam studied abroad in Germany and gained a palate for beer hardly any Baton Rouge bars served in the early 2000s.

While Pam seems to have found her dream job, she explained that being so close to campus has its advantages and pitfalls. She describes the fluctuations in population to be a “feast or famine” situation, which I think most businesses in college towns experience. One of Slinky’s major advantages is Pam.

Pam is backbone that keeps people coming back to Slinky’s. Every customer’s interaction with her sounds like the conversations you have with your cool aunt if your cool aunt owned a bar.
You hear a lot of, “Hey Ms. Pam,” and “Yes Ms. Pam, thank you Ms. Pam.” She’s not to be messed with, but she has fun messing with her customers.

Slinky’s is a different kind of college bar. Most of their clientele consists of rugby players, LSU professors, and graduate students. Pam sees herself as a moderator for educated conversations about politics, religion, and science under a canopy of undergarments.