Bartender of the Week: Mary Bess

In Blog, Local Spotlights by Steph Janigo2 Comments

Sliding up to MB’s bar at Venga Venga, it becomes immediately apparent that this classic beauty “owns” the joint.  Sure, this Mexican cantina with epic Snowmass views—to include killer, slope-side people watching—is proudly a Richard Sandoval Restaurant; but, while Mary Bess is on the clock her commanding presence is palpable.  Messenger gets the feeling that she spotted us a mile away, and if we’d been regulars our favorite drinks would be waiting with nary a sweat on the glass!  

An early walker, MB was born to move. With soccer as her grounding passion, MB easily adapted to nine different Houston schools before her mom, a Spanish teacher, landed a gig in KC and this tight-knit family of four settled into being midwesterners.  College Journalism degree in hand, MB returned to Missouri putting her education to work in a marketing job beneath fluorescent office lights. Yikes, right!?! 

Doing some quick research to re-navigate her path , MB took her huge heart and even bigger smile to South America: first to teach in Ecuador, and then off to  Brazil—chasing World Cup excitement. Temporarily exhausting her wanderlust while climbing Machu Picchu, MB returned to the states only to be invited by her then BFF, Ian, to climb Maroon Bells with him (and PS, please bring dad along, too!) This “one-way” trip to Aspen sealed the deal—MB is not only a Coloradan now, but Ian’s wife and the mother of their 19-month spitfire, Ellie!   

Bartending at Venga Venga brings joy both MB and the clientele who seek out this low-key joint with relaxed yet impeccable service.  Skilled in conversational Spanish allows MB to connect with her Latin American customers scratching her wanderlust itch.  Also, being around people who are happy because of adrenaline and endorphins, is infectious and only fuels her family shared goals of seeing the world. After all, Miss Ellie is literally following in her mother’s footsteps by walking at 9 mos., and she is learning to ski on third generation-skis passed down through Gwyn’s (yes, that Gwyn) Snowmass family! As if Venga Venga, being a mama, driving to Edwards on Thursday nights to play soccer, and being a wife weren’t enough…MB picked up another gig bartending at Gwyn’s! Before you go grab a cold one from her after a long day skiing we thought it would be nice to give you a little fodder for conversation.     

MA: Astrological Sign?
MA: Hometown?
MB: Houston, Texas
MA: Guilty Pleasure?
MB: Mac & Cheese, and Bagels.
MA: Drink of Choice?
MB: Casa Amigos Reposado.
MA: Celebrity Crush?
MB: Snowmass Ski Patrol dogs.
MA: What are you passionate about?
MB: My family, traveling, and soccer.
MA: One word description of yourself?
MB: Gregarious.
MA: Favorite part about working at Venga Venga?
MB: The people I work with and the apres’ good vibes we get.
MA: Favorite 90”s jam?
MB: It might not be 90’s but anything by Tracy Chapman.
MA: Favorite place you have traveled?
MB: Buzios, Brazil. Because that’s where I learned that I was at conversational level speaking Portuguese.
MA: Top of your bucket list?
MB: To take a family backpacking trip in Southeast Asia with my family, baby in backpack…haha.
MA: Last Meal?
MB: Authentic Enchiladas.
MA: Favorite Sports team to cheer for?
MB: Sporting KC, Kansas City’s soccer team.
MA: One thing you would take on a deserted island with you?
MB: A knife.
MA: A live act you would like to see you haven’t seen yet?
MB: The Avett Brothers.
MA: A movie you can watch over and over?
MB: Ocean’s 11.


  1. Kevin Remillard

    Visiting from Iowa I had the pleasure of being served by Mary Bess and also had a wonderful conversation. She inquired if I was from Iowa, as I had on a RAGBRAI shirt, and discovered that we probably had run into each other at the Downtown Des Moines YMCA. What a world!

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