On Sunday the Star-Telegram ran a story about Marcial Ortega, a man serving time for murder after he got drunk, got behind the wheel, and rammed a station wagon at freeway speed, killing 4-year-old Kaitlyn Sanchez in the crash. I probably would have missed this tragic story had I not been at eating at a Fuzzy’s and caught the front page peeking out at me from under the sports section, the lurid headline reading “Man Went on Drinking Binge at Hooters Before Killing Girl.”
You can’t make this stuff up and certainly not in North Richland Hills, home to Ortega’s favorite Hooters establishment. Despite the queasily unintentional humor in phrases such as Ortega’s lamenting his time “stuck in Hooterville,” Barry Shlachter’s story underscores the tragic consequences of overserving customers. Of all the things I worry about working behind a bar, rolling the dice on serving someone who’s already shit-hammered is probably number one.
I’ll be honest. It’s not often that I cut someone off. Overserving is a risk I take every time I go to work, because I have yet to work in a bar where drinkers know and mind their own limits. And anyway, keeping track of the drunk and the senseless is a challenge when it’s slow. Toss in a busy night and the fact that pouring one more shot might mean an extra Hamilton in the tip jar, and, well, if there are 10 bartenders in Fort Worth who adhere hard and fast to TABC’s over-service statutes, I’ll eat my hat.
Still, customer management comes with the job description, and it’s ultimately up to the people on the cash register side of the bar to make the judgment call. Hooters seems to have skated on being sued by the Sanchez family, because Ortega’s server claims that Ortega didn’t show signs of intoxication, but I think, in their infinite tackiness, Florida’s most famous scanty-clad chain got lucky. Sure, a lot of people are good at maintaining appearances, and others apparently have, like, a super constitution, but appearances don’t change the fact of how much someone has had to drink. Making another $10 is never worth the risk of a customer getting in a drunk-driving accident. So if you get cut off by that jerk who’s been making your drinks all night, don’t be an a-hole. Sign your tab and get into the cab when we tell you to. –– Steve Steward
Cinco de Drinko
Having said all that, Cinco de Mayo falls on Saturday, and chances are good that you’ll be sucking down cheap Tecates and margaritas and soaking them up with the last two flautas and quesadillas left in your favorite bar’s catering troughs. Just about every bar in town will have specials, so no matter where you go, you’ll probably have a tequila hangover on Sunday. For one thing, call a cab. Second, if you really like Coronas, Frankie’s Sports Bar is celebrating America’s favorite international holiday all weekend long with $3 Mexican beers and Hornitos margaritas. 1310 The Ticket is kicking things off Friday evening with a live broadcast, so if you’re one of those obsessive P1s or you really, really dig those Most Interesting Man in the World spots, get la fiesta started at Frankie’s on Friday night.
On the other hand, if sports bars or the downtown scene makes you loco, The Where House has a Cinco de Mayo party of its own, sponsored by Salsa Limon and featuring Telegraph Canyon, Mobley, My Wooden Leg, and a bunch of other bands. Doors open at 3 p.m., and there will probably be some kind of sweet tequila/Tecate combo special. Full disclosure: I’ll be making drinks. Just be sure to pound a couple tacos. You don’t want to dump a bunch of beers on an empty stomach. And again, get a ride. The police department doesn’t want your business. — S.S.
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Frankie’s Sports Bar
425 W 3rd St, FW. 817-870-9090.
The Where House
2510 Hemphill St, FW. 817-913-7777.