Of Bouncers and Doormen…

imageI have the opportunity to work as a “doorman” at a very nice Irish restaurant and sports pub in Bucks County, Pennsylvania on alternate Saturdays and when needed during large events. In my opinion the food is always very good. Delicious, large portions and beautifully presented. The staff is courteous, personable, attentive, friendly and, most importantly, fun! I like working with every one of them and like them on a personal level as well. In fact, there is nothing I wouldn’t do for the managing partner and his staff if it was in my power. I view this establishment as my establishment, not from an ownership point of view but from the standpoint that this is the first place I would bring my family and friends to for food and entertainment on a regular basis.

I’ve worked as a “doorman” before…in an Irish bar, known as Paddy’s Irish Pub located in Norfolk, Virginia, during the 1980’s. It was a “lively and rowdy” place and the clientele consisted of young, single women, sailors and Marines. Sadly(?) it’s gone now, replaced by a women’s shoe store.

The clientele who frequent the restaurant of this establishment are a more genteel and varied mix. From young families in their twenties and thirties who bring their children in for chicken fingers and fries to couples in their 30’s through 50’s who come in for date night and a quiet dinner by the fireplace, to those families who bring the grandparents in. The restaurant/pub is the venue for birthdays, anniversaries and other various celebratory events. In addition, the establishment hosts various charitable events as well and is active in their local community.

Patrons of the pub are generally men or couples between mid twenties to sixties who come to watch the many sporting events displayed on the multiple televisions throughout the pub and patio area. Almost every kind of sport is televised. Not only the main four of football, baseball, basketball and hockey but MMA fighting, cycling, rugby, soccer and others. The patronage varies depending upon the events being televised.

That all changes on Friday and Saturday nights and this is where me and my fellow “doormen” come in…

On Friday and Saturday nights we get a younger “demographic”. Many “young adults”, those who have just reached the legal drinking age, come in to the pub to get together to enjoy each other’s company and to enjoy the entertainment on those evenings. On Friday we generally have a DJ which is when we get the larger of the younger crowd but we also get a substantial number during the live music on Saturdays as well. This is when the establishment requires “doormen”. Some call us “bouncers” but we prefer “doormen”.

Let me explain the purpose of the “doorman”. We are not there to intimidate or be surly and gruff. We are not there to prove that we’re tough. Our first and foremost purpose is to welcome you to the establishment and ensure that those not of legal age are not served alcohol. We do this by checking IDs at the door of the establishment. House rules in our specific establishment are that no one under the age of 21 is admitted to the pub area without parents or legal guardians. During special events or when we have a large crowd we frequently issue wristbands to identify those who are over 21. This is to make it easier for you to be served alcoholic beverages by making it easier and faster for our bartenders and servers to identify you as one who is of legal age.

To establish who is of legal drinking age we thoroughly examine your drivers license, state issued ID or passport and, if we are not certain your ID is valid, we will ask for a second form of ID. House rules in our establishment are to ask for ID from anyone who looks as if they’re 35 or younger. Most young adults are very cooperative when we ask for ID. However some get offended and others get belligerent. It is not an insult to ask for your ID, it is a compliment. In addition, I’m 60 years old…everyone looks young to me. To those who are belligerent at the door you will be refused entrance. If you’re already giving me an issue before you get in then arguing with me or insulting me is NOT going to convince me to let you in and drink alcohol so you can become a BIGGER problem.

To those who are underage who try to use fake IDs to get in. We are not trying to “spoil your fun” and underage drinking is not a “game”. If an establishment is caught serving drinks to underage people they can lose their license and be closed. Though many of the bartenders and servers enjoy working with the public the reality is that they do what they do for a living. Working at this establishment helps them pay their rent, pay their bills and supports their families. Some are single parents who are not only trying to support a family but go to school to better their lives. The establishment has a large staff of not only bartenders and servers but management, hostesses and hosts, a chef, cooks, kitchen staff, food runners and dishwashers. All these people depend upon this establishment for their livelihood. You’re underage and drink? We get closed by the Liquor Control Board and all these people lose their jobs, just because you were selfish and wanted to have some “fun”. As doormen we’re not being your personal “buzz kill”….we are protecting the means by which the staff provides for themselves and their families.

Our secondary purpose is to ensure that everyone had a good but SAFE time and that one persons’ good time doesn’t infringe upon somebody else. We like our patrons. Our establishment is one that generates its income by providing good food, drink and a good time. We don’t make money if we have to ask people to leave. We want our customers to enjoy themselves but do not condone behavior or actions that may injure themselves or other persons. If two or more buddies start wrestling or punching each other as a joke, we’ll step in as we’ve found that sometimes this type of clowning around gets out of hand. Somebody falls or hits his buddy too hard and that person gets hurt. Or somebody falls into another customer or accidentally punches another customer and that customer either gets hurt or a physical altercation gets started…then a number of people get hurt.

If you start to dance on a barstool we’ll have you get down. We don’t want anyone to fall or get hurt and, not to sound snobby, but anyplace where families bring their children in to have dinner is not the “barstool/bartop” dancing type of establishment.

If we believe someone is inebriated we will thank them for their patronage but refuse to serve them any further, ask them to call a cab or UBER and have them to leave. Once again, we like and appreciate our customers and we are glad you choose our establishment to enjoy yourself. But we want you to get home safely so that you can visit us again at a future date.

As a “doorman” at a few establishments over the years I have viewed the behaviors outlined above and have experienced negative feedback from some patrons which prompted me to write this article. We want people to patronize our establishments. Your patronage also pays our wages and we appreciate your business. The better time you have in our establishment the more you will come and visit us. This makes our establishment more successful and ensures that we’ll be here for you to visit in the future. It is my hope that this article helps explain our role as doormen and helps to better your experience.

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