Mathers institutes cover charge to pay for security
After owning a bar most of his adult life, there is one part of the business Tom Mathers still doesn't understand.
"Why some people come out at night just to get into fights, I'll never know," he said. "But, my dad always said, a drunk man's actions are a sober man's thoughts."
Mathers, owner of Mathers Lounge & Cafe at 420 Yampa Ave., recently decided he was finished with the pushing and name-calling.
Enough is enough, he said. He would teach these angry drinkers a lesson he knew they would learn.
Per a new policy, the bar now charges a $2 cover for every person on Fridays and Saturdays.
The money pays for two bouncers to work those nights.
"We're a late-night club, but I don't run a bar for fights," Mathers said. "You're supposed to come down and have fun and relax."
The spate of recent incidents was all too easy for him to remember.
One night, two women started fighting with each other, Mathers said. He tried to break it up, but he had to call the Craig Police Department for assistance.
When law enforcement arrived, one of the women "hauled off and punched the other girl in the face, right in front of the police," Mathers said. "It was the dumbest thing I ever saw in my life."
Another time, one man started yelling and threatening another guy because he ruined his coffee table at home.
"Deal with it at your house, man," Mathers said. "Don't come down here and deal with it."
Other bars don't seem to have the same issues.
Dena Garcia owns Popular Bar & Cafe at 24 W. Victory Way, about a block down an alley from Mathers.
When she and her mother took over the business 27 years ago, they had similar problems, she said, but there aren't many fights now.
"When we first bought this bar, it was a dive and we had a lot of problems," she said.
But the pair cleaned it up by letting people know they meant business. Garcia said they started kicking people out at the first hint of trouble, a practice she keeps alive to this day, even though it has meant losing some customers.
She guessed the number of under-30 drinkers at Mathers' bar added to his problems. Garcia doesn't have the same crowd at Popular, she said.
"I'm sorry, I feel for him," Garcia said.
Mathers said parts of the young crowd are an issue, but they're not the only ones.
"There's so much drama with these kids," he said, shaking his head.
It doesn't help, though, that most of his customers are drunk when they show up, Mathers said. It seems his bar is the last place they go at night, when their buzz is peaking, which wouldn't be a problem if people could hold their liquor.
Jerry DeLong, commander of the Police Department Support Services Division, said he and his fellow officers always are thankful when business owners take proactive steps to minimize public danger.
"If they can help take care of things before they get out of hand, it helps us a lot," DeLong said.
Bill Leonard, Police Department Patrol Division commander, said Mathers does not fall into the department's top 10 response locations.
City law enforcement does not consider the bar a top priority, he said.
Mathers doesn't want to have bouncers or the money, but he feels backed into a corner.
"If people quit fighting, we'll do away with the cover charge and the security," he said.
"It's kind of up to them."