No 'jerks' allowed at pinball bar, owner says

Pin-Bar has been open only one week but has garnered positive attention for its no-tolerance of offensive behaviour.

Arlen Smith posts sign banning homophobia, racism, harassment and general hatefulness at Calgary pub

Calgary pinball bar has no 'jerk' policy 0:31

The owner of a new pinball-themed restaurant is telling "jerks" to go elsewhere to satisfy their arcade cravings.

Pin-Bar opened last week at 501 17th Avenue S.W., in Calgary's Beltline, and has been garnering some attention for its unusual sign.

"We do not tolerate homophobia, sexism, racism, transphobia, harassment, ableism, general hatefulness," it reads.

The sign promises staff will discreetly ask any offending patron to leave.

"I think in this day and age, there's people rallying and railing against what is deemed as political correctness, and you know, it's not really political correctness. It's just treating people with respect," Pin-Bar owner Arlen Smith told the Calgary Eyeopener this week.

Pin-Bar general manager Arlen Smith says his sign policy is about making all people feel welcome. (Rebecca Kelly/CBC)

"And if those people want to create a scene and sort of shout out against being respectful, then they can go do it somewhere else."

Smith's hard stance against jerks, as he describes them, was inspired by a trip to a Seattle bar, The Unicorn, two years ago. That bar had the slogan painted on its door. Smith returned to Calgary and installed multiple signs of the rules in his restaurant, the Palomino Smokehouse.

"Fortunately, we don't have to enforce them that often. I think generally people aren't sort of hateful scumbags in day-to-day life," he said.

It's about making everyone feel welcome, the general manager says. (Rebecca Kelly/CBC)

"This is just a reminder that as you come into the bar, that you need to watch your p's and q's — and treat people with respect."

Patrons have appreciated the sign so far, Smith said.

Local blogger Mike Morrison wrote a post about how he cried when he saw the sign, which is bright orange and the first thing patrons see upon entering the bar.

"It's empowering to know that I can go to a place and if someone calls me a fag, which happens, the bar and restaurant will have my back," Morrison wrote. "It allows me to relax, to have fun and be myself. I took a deep breath and had fun with my boyfriend."

Customers not following the rules will be discreetly asked to leave. (Rebecca Kelly/CBC)

That's the line for the rules, said Smith, who added he himself has "the mouth of a trucker." Swearing is fine but when it turns to "hatefulness" and making people nearby uncomfortable, staff will issue a warning or a request to leave, he said.

He hopes the sign creates a better environment for his staff as well. He noted sexual harassment on the job in bars and the service industry has been "quite commonplace."

"There have been places throughout the years where waitresses were expected to tolerate that kind of behaviour, thinking, 'Oh, it's just some customers being friendly.' Well, it's not. It's harassment," Smith said.

"There's no place for it."

A Calgary bar owner has set up a list of rules banning "hateful" behaviour at his new arcade-themed restaurant. 5:37


With files from Rebecca Kelly and the Calgary Eyeopener.