Whitewater bar instates new cover charge

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Pumpers and Mitchell’s bar in downtown Whitewater has recently implemented a $10 cover charge to non-students and non-permanent residents of UW-Whitewater.

Patrick

According to Curt Patrick, manager of Pumpers and Mitchell’s, many customers from nearby towns such as Rockford and Beloit were causing problems in the bar.

“It’s gotten to the point where we know certain [UW-Whitewater] students aren’t coming in here because they don’t feel safe and comfortable,” Patrick said. “[The cover charge] is something that we feel will protect the students and change the persona of the bar.”

Patrick said there have been many fights and complaints of harassment involving customers who weren‘t UW-Whitewater students. Because of these problems, the management at Pumpers and Mitchell’s has made it mandatory for patrons to show a UW-Whitewater I.D. if asked by security. If they cannot prove they are a student, they will be forced to pay $10 to enter the bar.

Patrick said alumni will not be affected by the cover charge.

“Safety comes first,” Patrick said. “I’m responsible for every single person in this bar whether they’re working, drinking or just enjoying themselves, and if some people aren’t going to be responsible, then I don’t want them in here.”

Patrick said he believes the reason non-students are causing problems is because they’re not used to a college-town environment, and bars strictly for college students, so they don’t know how to behave appropriately.

Pumpers and Mitchell’s owner Greg Condos said he wants the bar to service students.

“Bottom line is, we want it to be a college bar,” Condos said. “We don’t want out-of-towners coming in and intimidating the college kids.”

Condos

Patrick and Condos have been working on the creation of this cover charge since spring of 2012. They began enforcing the cover on Aug. 24. That night, Patrick said 10 people paid the cover charge, and about 10 people left the bar.

“We have plenty of business here,” Patrick said. “Losing a few customers is not going to hurt us. In the long run, our goal is to gain customers and support from this.”

According to Patrick, their security staff is “very lenient” when it comes to the cover charge. He said they might not enforce the cover on Homecoming weekend.

Pumpers and Mitchell’s has received a lot of support for charging a cover to non-students.

Becky Knuth, a senior art major, is a regular at Pumpers and Mitchell’s and hopes to see a change in the crowd.

“People from Beloit and Janesville areas would come here and go to that bar specifically because of the cheaper prices, and they were always the ones that were in fights,” Knuth said.

Knuth also said there have been times when she has felt uncomfortable around males who were not students, and she hopes she won’t have that problem in the future.

According to Patrick, he has also received support from the police department, which said it understands that he is trying to keep his customers safe.

There has also been a lot of criticism about the cover charge. Patrick posted the original rule and asked for feedback on Facebook. The original sign stated, “A $10.00 cover charge will be issued to any non-student male. Proper representation is required and questioning of merit is to the discretion of the security staff.”

The post attracted 192 comments, some of which accused Pumpers and Mitchell’s of “profiling” and being racist.

“It has nothing to do with race,” Patrick said. “If you ask anyone who comes in here or anyone that knows me, race is the last thing on my mind. We pride ourselves in diversity at this bar; everybody knows that who comes in here.”

There were also comments asking why females were not being questioned. Patrick said he took this into consideration and altered the cover charge to include any non-student.

Patrick said he anticipated criticism over the Facebook post.

“I knew that putting it up there, bold and plain to see, would cause there to be people who weren’t going to like it,” Patrick said.

Most of the negative feedback the bar received came from either non-students or students who don’t normally go into Pumpers and Mitchell’s, Patrick said. Regular customers, however, have been providing “overwhelming support.”

“There’s nothing wrong with people not going to college … but this is a college town, this is a college bar,” Patrick said. “It’s not profiling; it’s looking out for the interests of our students.”

Nick Crouch, a junior studying sociology, works security there. He said Pumpers and Mitchell’s has been getting mostly positive reactions from customers.

“Students are respecting what we’re doing,” Crouch said. “We’re trying to keep people safe.”

Junior Josh Wiggins works security for the bar as well. He said before the cover charge, the crowd was “getting scary” due to fights and harassment.

“Whoever gets mad about the cover and doesn’t come back, that’s fine,” Wiggins said. “It’s going to get back to a college bar.”

Patrick said the cover charge is not a way for the bar to make money.

“Our goal is to not have non-students or non-residents of Whitewater coming here,” Patrick said. “We’re not trying to make money out of this. It’s just our way of trying to deter people that we don’t want in here in a polite way.”

Patrick anticipates the cover charge will be enough to attract UW-Whitewater students and make them feel safe.

“I think this is the easiest, most effective way,” Patrick said. “This is step one, and I think it’s the only step we’re going to need to take.”