On Portsmouth’s "Notorious" Barment Letter
I’ve been reading with great interest the coverage and commentary regarding the “barment” letter that has been initiated by a number of downtown Portsmouth’s bars and restaurants.
Much of the discussion surrounding this issue has been connected with alcohol service, and it must be noted that when patron misbehavior is alcohol-related, both the patron and the serving establishment share responsibility. Nonetheless, it has been said before, and it bears repeating here that the vast majority of adults who consume alcohol do so responsibly, while the majority of those in the beverage alcohol business are committed to serving it responsibly, as well.
The best thing that all of us in the hospitality business can do is to focus on the quality and responsibility of our own alcohol service, and to be good neighbors with one another. Communication is key. Seventeen years ago, when the Brewery first opened its doors, we made a list of phone numbers of every bar in town and taped it next to our bar’s telephone. At the head of the list were these instructions: “Asshole Alert! Please help out your neighbors. Use this handy list and make a call when you think trouble may be heading their way.” Why is this effective? Because, as most bartenders will tell you, when you refuse service to some belligerent jerk one of the last things he’ll tell you on his way out the door is where he’s going next, where he believes he’s sure to be served. Eventually we copied the list, laminated it and mailed it to every other bar and restaurant in town. I’d venture to say that some version of that list remains taped next to many bar phones in town. That’s a start, but it is clearly not enough.
It has been suggested in these pages that the establishments participating in the barment program be boycotted. That is a patently silly idea and a misplaced response to their sincere effort to deal with problems caused by a small number of individuals whose irresponsible and sometimes dangerous behavior adversely affects the comfort, enjoyment and safety of the rest of us. My managers and I applaud that effort and are confident that, with everyone’s participation and input, it will evolve into a system the Portsmouth Brewery can participate in.