Main Street bars monitor patrons
Published: Monday, February 13, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 02:02
Bob Baker, a night manager at Klondike Kate's on Main Street, said the return of students has spurred more than just an increase in business.
On Thursday night, a customer delivered a headbutt to another person in the bar, and security staff removed the man before a more violent incident occurred.
"We were on it quick enough to prevent a full-out fight," Baker said.
Like Baker, many managers of Main Street bars are upping their staff and security to prepare themselves for an influx of customers during a time when students traditionally flock to Newark's nightlife.
Further down the street, Russ Wiedenmann, the general manager of Grotto Pizza, said his security personnel monitor incoming patrons to determine if they are intoxicated or have a history of causing problems.
Wiedenmann said his security staff has a list of customers who tend to be involved in rowdy or intoxicated behavior, which includes patrons who have previously been banned from the bar for a designated period of time, such as 30 days.
"We do identify people who have had trouble in the past—it stands out," Wiedenmann said. "We deal with them directly when they try to come in. We have a memory."
Wiedenmann also said safety improvements at the bars can also be implemented before a customer even walks through the entrance. His staff members are trained to look out for people who appear intoxicated before they set foot in the bar, most of whom can be identified by slurred conversation or decreased motor skills.
He also said his security staff tries to keep a lookout for those who appear to be talking very loudly or being physical with other customers, even if it appears they are not fighting.
"It doesn't take much for them to switch from playing around to getting serious," he said.
One challenge for his staff, however, is identifying people by their appearance, since it is difficult for his staff to log the identities of people being removed from the bar.
"Not too often are you getting people's names as they're going out the door, but there are familiar faces," Wiedenmann said.
One floor above Grotto, the staff at Kildare's Irish Pub on Main Street also try to prevent confrontational behavior before patrons enter the bar by observing people waiting in line.
Rikki Goren, general manager of Kildare's, said her security staff often watches to see if customers are cutting the line, which can cause potentially violent confrontations.
"When the line gets so long that it wraps around upstairs and goes out the door, if people cut the line, those who have been waiting patiently get upset," Goren said.
Similarly, security personnel often try to engage in conversation with guests when they are getting their identification checked. She said they try to determine if customers are too intoxicated to enter the bar by asking them how they are or talking to them about drink specials.
Baker said customers with a track record of causing problems are often banned from the bar depending on their behavior. He said an unruly patron once sucker-punched a staff member, which earned him a lifetime ban from Klondike Kates.
However, if a customer returns the next day and apologizes for causing trouble, he might be banned for a shorter period of time.
"Most people, if you're behaving yourself, are going to blend in," Baker said.
Newark police spokesman MCpl. Gerald Bryda said bars using their own in-house procedures for dealing with intoxicated customers is something that is helpful for the community.
"Any time an establishment takes it upon themselves to institute polices that concern the welfare and safety of its patrons, it's something that we support," Bryda said.