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Job Interview

[whitespace] Harveen Khera
Elena Koff

Boom Boom Baby

The doors shut behind you and you're transported back to San Francisco's long-gone musical heyday. With a pretension-free atmosphere, evocative black-and-white photos and arguably the best blues jukebox in town, John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom Room (1601 Fillmore) will leave you yearning for those days gone by. SF Metropolitan's Elena Koff caught up with Harveen Khera, who with her band of wily cohorts keeps the joint running.

Elana: What is your job?

Harveen: I am the operations manager. I run the bar, order all the liquor, manage the mailing lists, talk to reps, hire, public relations, do the bookings, cover for people, schedules, payroll. Everyone calls me "Yo Mama."

Elana: How long have you been working here?

Harveen: Since it opened nine months ago. I heard John Lee was opening the place, and I wanted to be a part of it. So I just walked in during construction and told him to hire me. I've worked my ass off to prove myself.

Elana: Do you hang out with the people you work with?

Harveen: Definitely. I cooked dinner Sunday night for the entire staff. We took a dip in the ocean after the meal. It's very family-oriented. We all work very hard. I don't think I've ever worked with a better group of people.

Elana: What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?

Harveen: I'd probably be welding and making art. But I do want to open my own bar one day, and I've committed to this for a few years.

Elana: What's the turnover?

Harveen: Oh wow, it's basically nonexistent. There are about 25 employees, and we believe in creating an incredible comfort level. Great music and drinks are well and good, but it's important to have a welcoming personality. It's great to have attitude; I tell the bartenders to throw it in their back pocket and use it when they need it. But we don't wear attitude on our sleeves. That's not what the blues or John Lee is about.

Elana: What are your favorite blues albums?

Harveen: For a male artist, it would definitely be John Lee's album The Ultimate Collection. And from a female artist, Nina Simone's Concert in Paris.

Elana: And favorite book?

Harveen: The Alchemist written by Paulo Coelho. I've given the book to everyone who works here.

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From the June 15-28, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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