HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >


Bouncers Outside Restaurants

I go by the Tip Tap Room fairly regularly during prime dining hours in the evening, and there is always a bouncer at the door checking IDs. I'd love to hear Brian Poe's rationale for having one there. Not that there's anything wrong with it per se, but I just feel weird doing that before dropping $100 on a dinner for two. I do get there's a strong crowd there just to drink, but for some reason I'm fascinated on what has led him to put someone outside.

I'd be curious to hear how other Hounds feel. Are there any other restaurants in Boston that do this?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If I had to guess, it's because underage Emerson and other college students try to drink there, and it's better to cull them at the door than have busy bartenders do it.

    In my experience, service at that bar is painfully slow. I've abandoned the place a couple of times after waiting too long without a bartender even acknowledging my presence.

    As a rule, a bouncer at the door of a restaurant is not a promising sign for me. It's typical of restaurants run by nightclub people, and nightclub people rarely do food that's worth a damn.


    4 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      Slim, I would blame those underage Suffolk students rather than them from Emerson...they have the lovely peaceful Theatre District clubs to go to instead =\

      To me, bouncers at a resto are a bad harbinger of its vibe.

      1. re: marais

        As I recall, the Tip Tap's predecessor, the notorious Shangri-La (no relation to the Belmont place), was popular with both Emerson and Suffolk undergrads for its lax ID checking. I assume both groups are still trying to fake their way into the new space.


        1. re: MC Slim JB

          Shame on those Emerson students, and so far afield from the hot Theatre District bar scene hah! At least I have heard no reports of sex workers slaving away in the Tip Tap's basement (unlike its predecessor).

      2. re: MC Slim JB

        The couple of times I've gone there for a bar experience (all in the early evening) have been wretched. Super slow service, mediocre taps despite their promising a craft beer extravaganza, poor prices (I think), and yes - I never understood why they needed a bouncer to maintain the line outside.

        I went once for lunch though and was pleasantly surprised. That was a food only trip, no beer. I forget what I had but I was really expecting it to be awful and it turned out to be pretty good.

      3. Eastern Standard and the Publick House employ bouncers despite the fact that neither is what I would consider a club.

        I think some of it is just the fact that there are a lot of colleges/universities in Boston, although like you, since I don't go to "clubs" it always throws me off a little.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Klunco

          I've seen folks checking ID's at The Publick House, but I have never seen it at Eastern Standard. Now I don't go to ESK on Saturday nights, so maybe that's why, but I've never seen anyone other than the hosts/hostesses at the front of house there.

          1. re: kimfair1

            there was a doorman at esk when i went before the springsteen concert last summer. when they are expecting it to be bananas, they have one.

        2. Many restaurants are now mandated by the city to have "crowd control" managers in one form or another. They even mandate an online course for those managers. This regulation does not specify restaurants, but BFD is requiring it from more and more restaurants. http://www.mass.gov/abcc/pdf/firesafe...

          1 Reply
          1. re: maizana

            The requirement for crowd managers is limited to venues with a capacity above 100 that are described as a) “nightclub, dance hall, discotheque or bar” or b) feature loud music (live or recorded) and have a dance floor.

            This seems aimed more squarely at nightclubs than restaurants. I guess the ambiguity arises between what's primarily a restaurant vs. a bar. Not sure where Tip Tap Room falls in that continuum.


          2. Estelle's also employs a bouncer/doorman outside to give peace of mind to South End patrons who are dining in Roxbury.

            1. Having someone outside can be good business. The insure passerby can easily be lured inside. If a place is doing well, different layers of people checking Ids is always a good idea.

              1 Reply
              1. re: libertywharf

                "The(y) insure passerby can easily be lured inside."

                ~~ sounds more like a hawker outside a seedy strip club!

                back in the day, mistral used to have doormen, but i don't know if that remains true. i steer clear on weekends.

              2. There are a number of logical reasons to keep someone at the door: to check ids; to keep intoxicated people from entering; to make sure the restaurant is not over it's fire capacity. Given its close proximity to the Garden and the amount of college students I'd say its a wise decision and most likely mandated by the city. Wouldn't it be a worse scenario if there was no one watching the door and the place was filled with drunk underage bruins fans??

                8 Replies
                1. re: thewildturkey

                  Well said wild turkey. Back in the day seeing someone at the front door of a restaurant wasn't unusual.

                  My previous post should have been, unsure

                  1. re: thewildturkey

                    I get why it can be necessary, but anecdotally speaking, it is not a good leading indicator of food quality. ESK is one exception I can think of, but that seems specifically event-driven, and I can't think of many others.


                    1. re: thewildturkey

                      These are all incredibly valid points... That being said, I'm not sure how any of this (outside of the checking of IDs) really matters on a random Tuesday night at the Tip Tap Room when the place is 1/3 full. I guess my larger point (really curiousity), is does Brian Poe feel like having someone at the door says something about his food. I always got the sense that he opened the Tip Tap Room to shed a little of the image that he's the guy that cooks at the Rattlesnake. This was his chance to do a real restaurant, and serve some fairly ambitious/different food. Does having a bouncer outfront diminish that a little? Clearly, there are nights when someone like that is needed out front. I would never begrudge ESK for having someone during Springsteen. That makes sense. Wouldn't you feel like it was a little weird though if you showed up at ESK tonight, and there was someone checking IDs at the door?

                      1. re: mkfisher

                        I imagine the calculus is: better to have a bouncer and suffer the less-than-salutary connotations it has for the cuisine than risk getting busted for serving alcohol to an undergrad minor.

                        Poe also has another place going at the moment in Estelle's.


                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          On the one hand, I can see it being more efficient to have one bouncer who is better trained to scan IDs at a door rather than all the waitstaff inside. Maybe just the visual of the bouncer is a deterrent enough to a potential underage drinker. But what happens to the underage but well meaning foodie that wants to go inside ? Do they get a stamp or something ?

                          1. re: Msample

                            I imagine if they're posting a bouncer at the door who checks every would-be entrant's ID, it's probably a 21+ night only. Kind of hard to see them doing the all-ages-show thing, and giving wrist bands only to the legal drinkers.


                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              Having someone at the door isn't just about checking ID for the under 21's. As someone who works as a doorman/bouncer on occasion I use this as a chance to check someone's state of inebriation even if they look way older than 21.

                              1. re: ScubaSteve

                                I was waiting for someone to mention that. Living in the Fenway area there are lots of party hearty suburban kids and adults who arrive half in the bag and bartenders can only do so much when it's standing room only.

                    2. Local 149 in Southie has one most nights I think.

                      1. I am not a fan of bouncers out side of restaurants especially higher end restaurants.

                        Also how effective are they?
                        Until recently I had no drivers licence the DMV told me I would not be served without a Liquor ID. Most liquor stores and bouncers could not tell the difference between a state ID and the Liquor ID and would still serve me when I used the wrong ID.

                        Not Related but
                        My greatest memory is when my Mom made a bouncer cry because I forgot my ID on my wedding day and he would not let us drink.

                        1. I bounced for a few years at a restaurant in a college area that has two bars. Once the drinking crowd starts taking over the dinning crowd it goes from a restaurant with families to a bar full of drinkers young and old. Underage drinking, fake IDs and over intoxication are just a few things nearly every establishment has to deal with in this city and that's what the bouncer is for.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Unfoodie

                            Again, all valid points. I guess my question is how does this apply to the Tip Tap Room (or a similar dining establishment) on a random Tuesday at 6:30pm? That to me seems like a period when you'll either have (1) people for coming for dinner (2) people coming for an after work drink. Could there be fake IDs and over intoxication at that point? Of course. Look, I realize it's better to be safe than sorry with some of this stuff. I also realize that I shouldn't let the fact that there's someone at the door alter my dining experience. Unfortunately, it does.

                            1. re: mkfisher

                              Considering it's between the Garden and Theater District you never know how much traffic you might get on any given night. The bartenders are slow enough without having to check IDs and if they did they'd be in the marshes not the weeds.

                              1. re: Unfoodie

                                Trust me, I know the traffic. I walk by most nights. Tonight for example, there's nothing at the Garden. The theater district isn't remotely close to there, so not sure why that matters. Why have someone at the door in the early evening? Again, I understand game nights/weekends after 8 or 9. Totally makes sense.

                          2. Hi, In response to bouncers, we have the bouncer/door person there for several reasons.

                            We agreed with the neighborhood association that we would do our part to help keep this section of the neighborhood safe (there was a tendency for homeless etc to occupy this area in a past restaurant life)

                            MC Slim is also correct, It keeps us alert to the underage Suffolk students, they are welcome to dine, but we at least know that should not be sat near the bar.

                            And Maizana you are also correct, crowd control and building occupancy has become a very serious, respected and important part of the restaurant business.

                            As operators, at the Tip Tap we also chose to have doormen due to our location just steps up the street from what can sometimes be rowdier concert and game attendees. Same can be said for Estelle's. We feel it best to keep someone at the door to ward off any trouble before it gets sat next to your table.

                            I do appreciate you dining with us and I hope this explanation is helpful.