Novacek serves up great flavors, better service

Ellen Fike
For the Craig Press
RaChell Novacek won best bartender in this year's Best of Highways 13 & 40.
Joshua Carney / Craig Press

It pays to be friends with RaChell Novacek.

Novacek is a bartender and restaurant/bar owner who hasn’t had a drink in more than a decade. But, she does have a passion for creating fun flavors.

So, when she is creating a new drink, it’s common for Novacek to call up one of her friends and ask them to head down to the Sizzling Pickle, where she has something for them to taste test.

“That’s why I have such good friends, they have to taste test the drinks for me,” she said. “When COVID hit, we bought a milkshake machine and then we had the idea to do boozy shakes. So then we had to come up with flavors and mixtures for that, so my friends had fun with that.”

Novacek has been owner and bartender at the Sizzling Pickle for about four years, since she and her niece opened the restaurant/bar in Thunder Rolls Bowling Center.

However, they moved out of that building last fall and have been at 351 Ranney St. since November.

Novacek brought a strong customer service background to the table, while her niece brought her knowledge of the food industry to the business. However, Novacek wasn’t a novice to bartending when they opened the Sizzling Pickle, as she had previously worked at the former Holiday Inn bar and Dark Horse Discount Liquor.

And although she doesn’t drink any of the boozy concoctions she makes, she has honest friends who are willing to help her along the way. She pointed to her Bloody Marys and a Jolly Rancher-flavored drink as particular favorites among the clientele.

“We’ve never been able to figure out if the drink tastes like a cherry or raspberry Jolly Rancher, but it definitely tastes like candy, nonetheless,” she said. “Plus, I tell everyone my Bloody Mary is resume-worthy.”

But while her drinks are worthy of a visit to the business alone, it’s Novacek’s understanding of how to deal with people of all walks of life that helped her be voted as the Best of Highways 13 & 40’s best bartender this year.

She said the most important thing to know about working in the customer service industry, especially as a bartender, is to treat everyone the same.

“Not one person is better than the other and everyone’s the same in that way,” Novacek said. “However, everybody is unique in their own way and they’re all so different from each other, so you just have to treat them the same as everyone else. Be respectful and friendly. But my dad also used to say I could sell ice cubes to Eskimos, so that could help.”

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