Taxi drivers get free 'thank you' meal for getting people home safe
Bier Markt, MADD Canada partner to serve brown bag lunches to 'unsung heroes' in St. John's
A safe ride home should be part of anyone's plan for a night downtown, and one St. John's business is offering a free lunch to the taxi drivers who play a key part in those rides.
Between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., as well as 4:30-6 p.m. Monday, the Bier Markt on Harbour Drive handed out free bagged lunches to cab drivers as an appreciation gesture.
"It's such a nice thing that we have these people in the community who really help us as restaurant operators," says Megan Gauci, general manager of the St. John's Bier Markt.
"We're serving a lot of beer, and as restaurant operators it's part of our social responsibility to make sure that the people that are in our restaurant are getting home safely, and not just paying the bill and leaving and then we hope that everything works out."
Gauci and another restaurant manager hit the curb to offer free lunch through the taxi windows to any driver who slowed down to get one.
If you're gonna go out to drink, try not to be mean to anybody, especially taxi drivers.- Amanda Hynes
"It shouldn't interrupt anything, should be easy for everyone," Gauci said, adding that she's already heard there are about 100 drivers planning to stop by. "Just a drive-thru, basically."
Legal and moral responsibility
Gauci said there's a legal onus on bars and restaurants to ensure the safety of their guests, but it's about more than that.
"Yes, legally, we have lines that we cannot cross, we make sure that people are drinking responsibly, but there's a moral obligation that comes with that, too," she told CBC's St. John's Morning Show.
"I'm a mother myself and I can't imagine anyone that's leaving there, I'm always thinking, that could be my children on the road, too, and so I want to make sure that people are leaving in a safe way."
To make sure people are safe, Gauci said she and her staff aren't shy about stepping in if they think it's necessary, and arranging a ride to keep someone from getting behind the wheel.
"There's cabs in front of our building all the time, they go right up George Street, we're flagging them down. I'll go to the window, I'll bring a guest in hand and say, hey, why don't you take this one?" she said.
"Introduce myself, introduce the guest to the cab driver to make sure. We have to do that — running a bar, if we're not doing that, then we're really letting down the public and our own families."
'Often the unsung heroes'
That's music to the ears of Amanda Hynes of the Avalon chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada (MADD).
"It is our hope that all businesses would take the route that the Bier Markt is doing, but some people, some bars, they do have a tendency to over serve," Hynes said, adding that isn't necessarily on the bar operators — it's on the public, as well.
"They have to take that responsibility that they're going to call the taxi or call a friend and go home. But the taxi drivers, they really are often the unsung heroes of our evenings out with friends."
MADD partnered with the Bier Markt for the event as a way to let drivers know they appreciate the service they provide.
"The taxi drivers here are the people who are getting us home safely, and it's often a thankless and tireless job," Hynes said.
"From our standpoint, anything that promotes social responsibility, getting home safely, you can enjoy your drinks or whatever you like, but just getting home safely is our key message."
Hynes said it's important for the public to remember that, even after their night out, someone else is still working.
"If you're gonna go out to drink, try not to be mean to anybody, especially taxi drivers. They have a lot to deal with," she said.
"It's always just nice to have a good open communication between yourself or your business, if you serve alcohol, to have good communication and a good rapport with the taxi drivers."
With files from the St. John's Morning Show