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Problematic Customers You Don’t Want in the Bar

When your bar becomes popular, you’ll get your fair share of customers. Hopefully, your tables will be filled with responsible, consenting adults that are out to have a good time and drink responsibly. But sooner or later, you are bound to run into some problematic characters.

Maybe is the dim lights or the festive atmosphere, but there’s something about bars that attracts sketchy characters like moths to a flame. Now, no one’s talking about unique, different people that deviate a little from the norm. We’re talking about people who behave in a way that makes others uncomfortable. Generally, you can count on these characters to show up on your doorstep, and when they do you have to be ready to set some boundaries if you want others to feel safe and comfortable in your bar:

The Creepy Pick-Up Artist

People flirt at bars. There’s no reason to try and avoid that, and honestly, you probably wouldn’t be able to keep it from happening even if you wanted to. Flirting is not a problem so long as all parties involved are having a good time and consenting to the advances, but that’s something the creepy pick-up artist doesn’t realize. He (it’s almost always a he) goes out of his ways to ignore the signals that someone is not interested. Instead, he doubles down and becomes uncomfortable if not outright dangerous.

If you don’t mind your female customers (or even staff) feeling uncomfortable and unsafe in your bar, by all means, let the creepy pick-up artist roam free. Your female customers will stop coming soon enough anyway. On the contrary, if you want to ensure they feel welcomed and secure, you need to draw some boundaries. Whenever you see this character making a move, keep an eye on the situation. If the woman seems uncomfortable or he’s become way too pushy, step in, you can gently tell him to back off or ask him to leave if things escalate.

The Angry Bigot

Very few business owners want their bars to be associated with bigotry, so they have no qualms when getting read of outspoken bigots as customers. You might not be able to spot a bigot at first sight, but eventually, they will make themselves noticed. You, and everyone else will hear them loudly voice their xenophobic, misogynistic, racist, homophobic, or transphobic, views, and when that happens the worst thing you can do is stay quiet.

When dealing with bigots staying silent makes you complicit. And sure, a problematic comment every now and then is harmless enough, but hatred knows no bounds and a bigot can always escalate and attack someone he deems inferior, which is not only extremely dangerous but can also lead to a PR scandal. The best course of action is to let them know you will not stand for bigotry.

The Hothead

As with the previous character, the hot head can quickly become a liability. The hothead is basically just looking for an excuse to start a fight. He walks defiantly across the bar practically begging someone to get in his crosshairs and his quick to act and dare people to fight him. He’s dangerous to other patrons, to himself, to the staff, and to the bar. He’s just a ticking time bomb that will leave a huge disaster when he sets off. As soon as you recognize this character, watch him closely, the minute he tries to start something, politely ask him to leave.

The Passout Drunk

This is the person your staff will be picking up from the bathroom when closing. They’re typically inexperienced and will overdrink if allowed. Suspect college kids and bachelorette parties. Though you don’t want to kick them out, you do want to cut them off as soon as you see them get a little tipsy. This type of drunk is dangerous to themselves and your bar. You could be liable if something happens to them in your establishment.

A Young Woman Passed Out Drunk on a Bar Counter — Image by © Patrick Strattner/fstop/Corbis

Always remember that you are in a really people-focused business. If your customers feel uncomfortable or unsafe, you’re failing at your job. Always keep the safety of your customer above the unhealthy entertainment of a few sketchy characters.