Logan Hunter, a bartender at The Uptown Café, defies the stereotype of the struggling artist stuck in a bad job. Hunter, 32, loves being a bartender and loves Bloomington just as much as he loves acting, producing, and directing in New York City.

Growing up, Hunter was a competitive swimmer at the Bloomington Swim Club and at Bloomington High School South. It was in the pool where he first learned the value of a strong work ethic.

“I was training for thirty hours a week for close to twelve years of my life,” says Hunter. He still holds records for the 500-yard freestyle swim at South, and a club meet in 1999 saw him face off against a then-unknown Michael Phelps, whom Hunter “beat up on pretty good.” (They were both outpaced by two-time Olympic gold medalist Tom Dolan.)

Restless after a brief stint at Indiana University, Hunter moved to New York in 2001 to study acting.

“I did what every other person who moves to New York does. I started working in restaurants,” he says. It took him a year and a half of auditioning before he landed his first gig, on Law & Order—a tiny part, “one of the cattle that runs around in the background,” he says.

Meatier roles soon came his way, including an appearance on All My Children and a turn onstage as Rocky in an off-Broadway production of The Rocky Horror Show. During this period he took “mental notes on everything,” he says, “the lighting guys, the electric guys, the grips, the audio guys,” and learned enough to handle many positions in the world of show business.

Hunter now splits his time between New York and Bloomington, acting and directing in both. Most recently he worked as an associate producer on the film Chlorine, starring Kyra Sedgwick and Vincent D’Onofrio, which was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival and will open in theaters later this year.

When in town, Hunter enjoys putting on a show for his bar customers. “It’s all theatrics,” he says. “I like to light drinks on fire. I talk to a hundred customers a night. I have to be able to relate to these people; that’s part of what being an actor is.”

Uptown owner Michael Cassady appreciates what the actor-producer-bartender has contributed to the success of the restaurant’s new, enlarged bar. “Logan is a gift from God!” he laughs.