One night wasted at the Albatross

Keeping the Peace
By Tom Lessard

During the years I worked (mostly part-time) as a waiter and bartender at the Club Albatross in Huron Park, there always seemed be someone ready to cause some kind of annoyance.
I recall one night I was working along when two men and a woman came in, sat down and ordered drinks. We became chatty and were having a bit of a time telling jokes, etc. Other patrons began arriving so the three got up to leave. They said, as they were heading out, “We’ll see you later.” I replied, “I hope so.” Little did I know it would be so soon.

The bar quickly filled up to almost overflowing. We had two bartenders, three waiters and two doormen on duty. Business was brisk when all of a sudden, every door in the building was opened and in poured 38 OPP officers.
This was shortly after 9 p.m. They blocked all the doors and had officers inside the washroom. After closing the bar, they began to send people into the dining room to be checked for ID and whatever else they were looking for.
At one table on the dance floor, they found a 14-year old girl with a glass of beer. She was dolled up to look like she was in her 20s. When she entered the building with three other patrons, she immediately went to the women’s washroom while her friends found a table and ordered a pitcher of beer and three glasses. After a short time, the teenager made her way to the table. One of the friends went up to the bar and got another glass. No one served the girl, yet the waitress in her area was charged with serving a minor.
The OPP overlooked a number of minors in the room where I was working. Maybe it was because the three undercover cops who were in earlier gave me a break for being so friendly with them.
People were getting antsy after a while because they couldn’t leave and weren’t able to get a drink. One fellow stood up and gave the Nazi salute and hollered, “Zeig Heil! Zeig Heil!” Well, the cops rushed over and ordered him to sit down and shut up.
Another man (a local company manager) got up and started to leave. Four cops confronted him, telling him he wasn’t allowed to leave and that he had better sit back down. He told them that he had come in to have a drink and if he couldn’t get one here he would go somewhere else where he could drink. They insisted that he would not be allowed to leave until the raid was over. He became so adamant that one of the inspectors came over to find out what the commotion was all about. After assessing the situation, he told the officers to let him go. I don’t think anyone else was allowed to leave.
The sting stunk. They didn’t nail anyone else. Since the bar didn’t reopen that night, we lost a lot of revenue and because we couldn’t sell any drinks, we lost all of our potential tips. All the raid did was create a disgruntled crowd of patrons and animosity toward the OPP. And it must have taken a big chunk out of the police budget: 38 personnel and their vehicles don’t come cheap.

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