Former 12th Air Command bartender Julian Mendez died Nov. 10 after a short battle with liver disease. He was 33.
Mendez worked at the now-defunct 12th Air from about 2004-07.
Mendez was born in Colombia and lived in Philadelphia for eight years before moving to Medford, N.J., two years ago with his partner, Paul Hopkins. The couple, together for 11 years, was building a new home in Huntingdon Valley.
Mendez was known as a friendly and accommodating bartender, often making lifelong friendships with his customers. Jerry Tapely, a longtime customer of 12th Air Command, met Mendez at the bar.
“He was an extremely friendly person with an incredible smile and laugh that we’ll remember for a long time,” he said. “He was just such an engaging and warm person. He always cared about people.”
Venture Inn bartender Robert “Sandy” Beach also knew Mendez from 12th Air and said he was a favorite with customers.
“He was just the sweetest, funniest, most lovely man you’d want to meet,” Beach said. “His smile was contagious. If you were in a rotten mood, he could cheer you up.”
Besides his love of Philadelphia’s nightlife, Mendez enjoyed spending his time going down to the shore and spending time on the beach.
“Every time you went out with him, you knew it would be a great adventure,” Tapely said.
And he was very protective, of both friends and strangers, Tapely said.
“One time when he was out, he saw a young woman walking alone in a dark alleyway and saw someone approaching her. She was about to be mugged and Julian called out a random female name and said, ‘Cheryl! There you are! I’ve been looking all over for you,’ and put his arm around her,” Tapely said. “The woman thanked him but said, ‘How did you know my name was Cheryl?’” Mendez is survived by Hopkins, mother Yaneth Restrepo Mendez, sister Paula Restrepo Mendez and brothers William and Mauricio Restrepo Mendez.
A service was held Nov. 14 in Marlton, N.J.