One local bar owner is looking out for the safety of his customers and the health of his business.
Robert Henn, 51, moved here from Brooklyn, New York, to get a change of scenery and then purchased the Brickhouse Tavern, 319 Main St., Dupont, 3½years ago.
In an effort to increase sales, Henn thought of offering a service like Uber or Lyft, but with one exception — this one’s free!
“Right now we are in the preliminary stages, so we have a car to get started with, to see if it takes off. If it does take off, then I would invest in a 10-passenger bus or van. That’s the goal,” Henn said.
The free service began Friday, Jan. 5. Anyone looking to use the shuttle service has to live within a six-mile radius of the bar and must sign a waiver. And, not to worry, customers who drove their car to the bar and are taking the free shuttle service home can keep their car parked in the tavern’s parking lot overnight.
The free shuttle service runs every 15 to 20 minutes on Friday and Saturday nights from midnight to 2:30 a.m., getting patrons home from the bar without them worrying about getting a DUI or getting in an accident caused by alcohol.
“My main concern is the safety of my customers,” he said.
He’s not only looking out for his customers’ physical safety, but also is trying to keep them out of trouble with the law.
“If someone gets arrested for a DUI, that affects my business. So I thought to myself, what can I do to bring more business into the bar, but not have my customers worry about getting a DUI, and as I thought about it the idea stuck me and immediately it felt like it was a win-win for everyone,” said Henn.
Henn posted the idea about the free shuttle service on the Brickhouse Tavern’s Facebook page and almost immediately started to get positive feedback. He said the new service is just a natural extension of the close relationship he has with many of his customers, having given customers rides home in the past if they had too much to drink.
Customers can sign up for the service with the bartender as soon as they get to the bar. They add their name to a desired time slot and provide their address and sign the waiver while they are still sober. Then, when it is their selected time, they get in the shuttle and go home.
The driver will be paid by the bar at an hourly wage from midnight to 3 a.m. and will probably get tips from customers they drive home.
“I think it’s a good service and all bars should have it,” said bar patron Chris Moon. “All together it really is just a great service.”
Patrons Jim and Mary Ellen Homecheck frequent the bar for its “amazing” chicken wings and said this is an added incentive.
“It’s better than getting an Uber because it’s free, and it’s better than getting a DUI because you’ll lose your license and the amount of fines you would have to pay just isn’t worth it,” said Mary Ellen.
Bartender Nikole Kenyon thinks it’s a great service.
“I believe it is necessary because our main concern here at the Brickhouse Tavern is getting our customers home safely,” she said.
She explained she has had customers who have asked her to call them a cab or an Uber in the past and it is very expensive.
“I think it’s going to do really well,” she said. “We are eliminating the use for people to sign up for services such as Uber and instead just come in, sign your name in our log book and we’ll get them home safely. I just think with all the new DUI laws and accidents due to alcohol, I just think we are making things a lot easier and a lot safer.”
Last weekend, Matt Cawley and a few of his friends walked to the Brickhouse Tavern from his home, right up the road on Route 315.
“I was pretty intoxicated,” Cawley admitted.
So, he asked the bartender about the shuttle, signed the waiver, and a very nice woman named Jenn drove, him and his friends home, he said.
“She was very pleasant. I give it a 10 out of 10 because the ride home was so nice and quick,” Cawley said. “I have never heard of a bar doing this. I think it’s a great idea because with a service like that, you’re definitely going to bring people into the bar.”
While that is certainly an added benefit, it is not Henn’s primary motive for offering the service.
“It’s not about money, it’s about my customers getting home safe,” he said.