SEATTLE -- Seven years after a horrible accident took her vision, Maria Federici has returned to the job she loved: bartending.
Federici was driving down Interstate 405 near Renton in 2004 when a piece of furniture flew off the back of another vehicle, smashing her windshield, striking her in the face. She lost her vision and suffered many other facial injuries.
Before the accident, the University of Washington graduate was bartending to make money. She recently told a friend, Rita Dixson, that she missed bartending. After Dixson opened The Bridge, a new restaurant and bar in West Seattle, she asked Federici to join her behind the bar for a few hours on Mondays.
"She took me up on the offer and she loves it," Dixson said.
Federici works about three hours a week and does it on a voluntary basis.
"It pretty much fills the void for me," she said. "I feel like I'm helping out."
She quickly memorized the soda gun and the location of every bottle in her corner of the bar. She says each bottle has its own feel.
"Nothing else feels like Makers," she said while lifting the whiskey bottle. Then she puts it down and lifts a vodka bottle. "Nothing else feels like Ketel One."
Federici makes the drinks, then hands them off to a server. She is not able to pour beer yet because the bar has 18 taps, but she plans on memorizing those in the near future.
"I love sitting back in the darkness just watching her do her magic," said Rob Doyle, Federici's significant other. "I like to say that if you ever believe that something can't be done, tell Maria and get out of the way."
Other places have approached Federici about guest bartending at their bars.
"It doesn't surprise me that she can do that because she has already been through so much," Dixson said. "It's just who she is."