Bouncers prepare for Unofficial, changes to city liquor ordinances

With the arrival of Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day, bar bouncers and doormen are taking extra precautions for the holiday weekend.

Firehaus doorman Brandon Babic, junior in AHS, said Firehaus management sent the staff an email Monday outlining changes to the bar’s policies for the holiday. The email stated that, along with the city-mandated rule of only permitting patrons 21 years or older to enter, no glassware, pitchers, straight shots or shark bowls will be served. And because the bar will only serve customers one drink at a time, Babic said doormen will have to be on especially high alert. 

Babic said that despite all of the policy changes made for the weekend, he expects it to be just like any other busy weekend. 

“It’s going to be just like Homecoming or Mom or Dads Day weekend — super packed all the time,” Babic said. “With holidays like this, we expect more of an older crowd.”

Babic said that although the responsibilities for doormen and bouncers are similar, they have different job descriptions. He said bouncers’ main focus is security, while doormen are responsible for both security and maintaining a clean bar, which may include mopping or picking up garbage.

Only doormen and bouncers who are 21 years or older and have gone through the BEST training program through Champaign Police Department are allowed to check IDs at the door. This training program is a one-night, four- to five-hour class that teaches bar staff how to decipher fake IDs from real IDs, how to handle unruly patrons and how to establish a useful force policy.

Champaign Mayor and Liquor Commissioner Don Gerard said he encourages the BEST training program. Gerard said that if the bar staff has gone through the BEST training program, the bar and its owners will have the benefit of the doubt if charged with a violation, which is a possibility for weekends such as Unofficial.

“At the end of the day, what we want is for businesses to do well and people to be safe and just to follow our ordinances,” Gerard said. “We try to use it to encourage best business practices.”

Babic said the class was both interesting and helpful in preparation for weekends like Unofficial.   

“It taught me not necessarily just how to deal with drunk people, but also how to get them to leave on their own without force,” Babic said.

He said there was one instance about a year ago where he caught an older woman urinating in the Beer Garden. He said he let the woman finish and escorted her out of the bar, skills he learned through the training. 

Champaign police Sgt. Joe Ketchem of the alcohol unit said that by having the bars participate in this program, they will all have a universal standard on how to handle certain customers that cause a disturbance.

“You don’t want the general thing to be for one bar to grab one guy and just toss them out on the street, and you don’t want another bar to not have the ability to respond,” he said.

Megan can be reached at

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