Behind the counter with barista Keno Clark

William McKone, Staff Writer

Ten years ago, Keno Clark was serving drinks in a bar to shivering New Yorkers dressed in winter coats. Now, he is whipping up sugary, icy macchiatos for sweating Upper School students.  

Clark’s experience in New York has helped him get through the busy lunch period.

“Working the bar in a New York hotel is more hectic than being a barista at school. The most hectic part is opening the hotel as the main bartender,” Clark said. “You have all the pressure down on you, and you don’t know what to expect.”

Clark became a Maverick Café barista in January 2016. When Clark is not working at the café, he helps out at track meets in any way he can.

“The majority of the kids here are nice and have good manners. They always say ‘thank you’ after I serve them,” Clark said. “Good manners are very important to me.”

Hot Houston weather is not unfamiliar to Clark, who was born in Hopewell, a fishing town in Jamaica. Clark’s parents constantly traveled to and from the United States for work or for family. Clark moved to the U.S. when he was recruited by the Westin Hotel in California to become a bartender.  He then worked in New York and later at a Hyatt hotel in New Orleans before arriving to Houston in 2013.

“I want my customers to know that I am professional. It’s important for me to know how to make all drinks,” Clark said. “This way, I don’t have to go and ask somebody else how to make a certain drink.”

Clark is now married and has two sons, age six and one.  During his free time, he plays soccer and roots for the Manchester United Football Club with his children. Clark also enjoys bonding with his coworkers at the café.  

“He is a hard worker. When anyone needs help at the cafeteria, especially the lunch ladies, he is always there to lend a hand,” barista Betty Joya said.

The Maverick Café is open from 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Clark’s favorite drink is a caramel macchiato with a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon. 

“He always serves me with a smile, and his drinks taste great,” said freshman Ishan Shah, a regular café visitor.