Schenectady County

Bombers in Schenectady scales back ‘dress code’

Bombers Burrito Bar in downtown Schenectady will continue to ban the wearing of hoods up, sunglasses
A photo of the new safety rules at Bombers put up Thursday at the bottom of the stairs leading to the second-floor bar area.
A photo of the new safety rules at Bombers put up Thursday at the bottom of the stairs leading to the second-floor bar area.

Bombers Burrito Bar in downtown Schenectady will continue to ban the wearing of hoods up, sunglasses and backpacks in its bar after 10 p.m. as part of an effort to keep the location safe for patrons.

The rules were implemented in response to an isolated shooting on State Street in March, according to franchise Vice President Jimmy Vann.

A “dress code” was implemented three months ago, but the restaurant and bar modified the rules after facing some backlash on social media Thursday. The criticism followed an article that appeared in the Times Union about the new rules. Some people saw them as potentially discriminatory.

The rules now consist of a list of general safety guidelines.

“No baggy clothes” and “No pullover hoodies with middle pocket” were removed from the list and replaced with “No hoods up plz,” “No outside alcohol” and “No weapons.” “No backpacks” and “No sunglasses on” remained on the list. The rules only apply to the second-floor bar area after 10 p.m.

Vann said he recognized “dress code” might not have been the best wording and wanted to make the rules oriented more toward safety, not in telling people what they can and cannot wear at his bar.

“For lack of a better word, I called it a dress code,” Vann said, “but my angle really was safety for guests, for all, for my staff.”

The shooting that led to the creation of the original dress code occurred early on the morning March 27 outside Nico’s Pizzeria, which is located next to Bombers. According to police, two men fired shots near a crowd of about a dozen of people, including police officers who were responding to an unrelated fight outside Nico’s.

No one was injured by the gunfire, but at least one bullet struck an office window nearby. The two men were found by the officers and taken into custody.

Local business owners expressed concern over the incident, and Vann said he met with police to talk about keeping Bombers safe.

“I met with the lieutenant of the Schenectady Police Department and discussed what can we do as a responsible business operator to help the cause and make things safer down here,” Vann said.

After the meeting, the bar temporarily brought in additional security and offered a discount to uniformed officers who came inside to get take-out. Last call was moved from 1 a.m. to midnight, and police agreed that enacting a type of dress code could be a good measure.

Vann said he was strict with the dress code in the first few weeks after the shooting, but the rules have been more loosely enforced as time has passed.

The Bombers vice president noted that customers have been caught sneaking alcohol into the bar by hiding it in loose clothing in the past. He also described an incident where the bathroom was vandalized and toilets were smashed, but suspects could not be identified on security footage because they had been wearing either hoods or sunglasses.

“I have an obligation to respect our liquor license, and to keep everybody in the space as safe as possible,” Vann said.

Just after 2 p.m. on Thursday, Bombers was entertaining a small, quiet late lunch crowd of about half a dozen people. Guests and staff alike said they understood that the rules were implemented to avoid any negative incidents inside the bar.

Sam Kyle, 23, was enjoying food and drinks with two friends on the second floor. Kyle said he and tablemates all work in the restaurant industry, and he appreciates any measures taken to make employees and diners feel safer.

“I think it seems reasonable, [it’s] not asking too much,” he said. Kyle said that in restaurants, a host or hostess could monitor the flow of customers, but it can be more difficult in open establishments like bars. “You don’t have a way to account for all of the people coming in.”

Justin Fiorino, 24, and Lexi Stack, 23, sat across from Kyle at the table. They agreed with their friend.

“It helps people feel more safe,” said Fiorino.

“Why would you bring a backpack to a bar anyway?” Stack added.

Luke Meyer, 25, said he’s been a server at Bombers since April and has never personally seen the rules enforced.

“It makes sense. I understand why they do it,” Meyer said, explaining that he knows of bars near SUNY New Paltz where his sister attends college that prohibit patrons from wearing their hoods up.

“I believe it’s loosely enforced,” said Stephen Brackett, 21, a Bombers employee who works downstairs in the kitchen. “I don’t think they’re picking out people to enforce it.”

Vann said the amended rules will continue to exist as general safety regulations for guests and staff at Bombers. In the meantime, he said, he is open to public input on making the restaurant and bar a safe place.

“Anyone who wants to help me with this, I welcome to come down and see me and talk to me about it, to help me make the place safer for our guests and for our staff,” Vann said. “I completely welcome that.”

Categories: Business, News

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