Meet Dylan ‘Rhubarb’ Ruba from Ramblin’ Rascals

Interview by Amy Spanton
Photography by Christopher Pearce

From South West Rocks to rock ‘n’ roll dive bar; we meet this man who would have a drink with The Rock over anyone else, living or dead.

How did you get into the hospitality industry?
I started off driving the courtesy bus for the local tavern in South West Rocks where I grew up. I’d pick up a group of regulars, drive them to the pub, pour their drinks until they’d had enough and then I’d take them home. I’ve never seen a group of people let alone a whole town drink as much Tooheys Old as I did at that tavern. I had a lot of fun there and I guess I just followed that fun all the way here.

How did you start at Ramblin’ Rascal?
I had just finished dinner with my mate Ciaran when we stumbled upon Rascal’s. I’d previously sent them a weird email stating that if given the chance to work there I probably wouldn’t embarrass myself that much. I’d never been inside though, so as you can imagine I was pretty nervous. Thomas the security guard ushered us in. I think there was a band on, but I can definitely remember the place being alive. We got up to the bar and Cosmo somehow recognised me as that guy who sent him the weird email and to my surprise wanted to organise a trial shift for the following Thursday. The rest is history.


You’re bar managing at 24? How did that happen?
I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with some great managers. Swanny, Ciaran and Marty, I’m talking about you guys. They taught me how to work hard without becoming jaded and helped me in realising a bar’s strength is in its team and I guess that’s something I’ve always taken with me.

Then the boys (Dardan, Charlie and Cosmo) trained me up in the ways of Rascal’s and when the time came and the position was available I put my hand up. They said yes (albeit reluctantly) but I’m still here. Surely that’s a good sign.

“I love how it’s becoming more normal to drink whatever you want. The amount of big beefy rugby boys I see ordering cosmos always makes me smile.”

What’s your favourite spirit? Why?
All of them because I’m in no position to be picky.

What cocktails are you drinking right now?
Almost exclusively screwdrivers on account of Samuel L. Jackson in the film Jackie Brown. Which is a great movie to watch especially if you had a few too many screwdrivers the night before. Even though SLJ is the bad guy he’s still by far my favourite character. That goes for all the movies I’ve seen him in. I’ll never be that cool but they taste great and I can dream.

What cocktail/ drinking/ bar trends do you love?
I love how it’s becoming more normal to drink whatever you want. The amount of big beefy rugby boys I see ordering cosmos always makes me smile.

Any you hate?
When big beefy rugby boys think it’s weird to drink cosmos.

What has the experience been like working for RR?
It’s been a wild ride but I’ve been here for nearly three years now so I think that speaks volumes. Dardan, Charlie and Cosmo have created an unreal bar for both workers and patrons alike. I’ve also worked as a bartender, supervisor and now manager which has kept it super interesting and fresh, if it wasn’t interesting enough already. But most importantly I’ve met some great people, worked with some great people and learnt a lot. So it’s been pretty cool.

What are some of the things you love about hospo?
I’m not at liberty to discuss this. Just joking, I love how the whole industry is centred around the idea of having fun. We’re not out here saving lives but at the very least we make people’s lives a lot more enjoyable.

How has the COVID experience changed your work life?
It made it much harder. I feel like we’re notorious for being a fun, rambunctious, late night haunt but with covid that has become more of a tame, unsure, dimly lit vibe. It’s made it hard to keep people interested and stay motivated but we’re nearly through it. All in all I’d say it’s made it more of a somber experience.

What are some of the things you don’t like about the hospitality industry?
I don’t like people who ask questions like ‘what’s your real job?’ I also don’t like how badly the industry can affect people’s mental health.

When restrictions are fully lifted, what do you want to do?

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Sipping a screwdriver on a beach somewhere.

If you could have a drink with someone (alive or dead) who would it be and what would you be drinking?
Definitely Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and it’d have to be a protein shake. Obviously. That guy is like a real life superhero, it’s a no-brainer for me.

Signature Drink:

Dylan’s Screwdriver 
40ml vodka
20ml Aperol
5ml lemon juice
60ml orange juice
Build in tall glass over ice
Top with Soda