My family and I would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Thomas Orr III, the 30-year-old Lee’s Summit off-duty police officer who was fatally shot after a party at a Westport restaurant. Our hearts go out to all who witnessed such a tragedy.
I have grown up in the world of running bars and restaurants. I have been the general manager for nine years at the KC Juke House blues and jazz bar and restaurant, located in the historic 18th & Vine Jazz District. I began my journey in the family business 25 years ago at BodyWorks at 86th and Troost. My family also owns the Epicurean at 75th and Troost. We have been in business operating night clubs, bars and restaurants for about 40 years. We have accumulated a great deal of experience in the hospitality industry.
Over time we have seen many incidents of misconduct inside our own establishments. Therefore we have established security procedures to ensure safety. We take pride in the way we do business and attempt to keep our customers and staff safe as possible.
Our first form of safety is security. This is one of the most important things in our business. We strive to keep our patrons and employees safe.
Our motto is, “If you look good, you feel good about yourself.” From this we developed a dress code with a number of guidelines: no tennis shoes, no ball caps, no white T-shirts, no flip flops, no sagging pants and no hoodies. This doesn’t mean that people who dress this way are bad — it just means that that attire is too casual for us. Over the years we have had to relax a little to go with today’s fashion trends, but we still maintain some restrictions.
Secondly, we have a door check. That check consists of reviewing that our customers have proper identification, and we perform a body check for weapons or alcohol brought in from outside. I know that sounds invasive, but it works.
The checks are performed on both men and women, with inspectors matched to patrons by gender. You wouldn’t believe it, but we have turned away many women who were trying to bring in weapons. With today’s gun laws we have to be safe and protect our customers so we don’t allow anyone in with a gun — not even off duty law enforcement.
Our third and fourth steps are inside and outside security. Inside bouncers are placed in strategic areas to move the crowd and watch the floor for arguments or other bad behavior. If we are diligent in our watch, we can usually spot a situation and get control over it before it gets out of hand.
Bouncers are trained to remove the parties one at a time, going out separate doors. This allows the first party to leave the premises while we detain the other party. This basically creates a safety net for everyone involved.
We staff outside with armed security to secure the outer perimeters. That includes watching and controlling the main entrance and the surrounding areas. These workers also perform various other duties such as walking female customers to their vehicles, controlling any illegal activities, controlling fights and detaining customers who are violating our policies. Our armed security has the authority to detain the suspects and call the police department when necessary.
These are the main functions we use to provide a safe environment for our patrons. We know we cannot control the behavior of people. But we have processes to help, and they have proven to be effective through the years.
Andrea Shelby is general manager of the KC Juke House.