Lincoln Park Dollar Beers Tradition Ends in Controversy


Published: April 2, 2009

A March 11 episode involving an intentionally lit bathroom fire is the latest in a string of incidents that has led to the end of dollar beer night at Lincoln Park Grille, the bar owners said. No one was hurt in the fire, and damage was minimal. The person responsible for the fire has yet to be identified.

The fire, which was set to a bookbag belonging to Derrick DeMaria, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’09, was the dangerous “last straw,” said bar co-owner Jason Starkie.

“This was not one person who ruined [dollar beers] for everyone,” Starkie said. “Things have been gradually getting out of hand.”

Brian Wilson, a bartender at Lincoln Park, said that in the week prior to the fire an out-of-control bar patron urinated in a pitcher of beer and placed it on a table.

Patrick Wyllie, FCLC ’09, said he heard that during a game of flip-cup at Lincoln Park the night of the incident, “two people drank [urine].”

The March 11 fire occurred between 12 and 1 a.m. around the time the dollar beer special was ending, according to Wilson, who was bartending that evening. Witnesses said that the bookbag belonging to DeMaria was taken to the men’s restroom and set on fire. When the bookbag was discovered, the fire was contained and taken outside, Wilson said.

Brendan McDonough, FCLC ’09, said that he was in line to use the bathroom when he saw smoke “pouring” out of the door.

“There were flames coming from inside of the bag,” McDonough said. According to McDonough, when he realized that the bag belonged to DeMaria, he began screaming over the noise of the crowd, asking who was responsible.

Lawrence Jahn, a patron of the bar who witnessed the events of that night, recalls a bartender asking who was responsible for the fire and saying that until a confession was made, “dollar beers would end.”

DeMaria said that he believes the incident was “completely random,” and not aimed at him intentionally.

“I do not think that whoever did this targeted me personally,” DeMaria said. “I just think things got out of control and someone decided to cause trouble.”

According to DeMaria, he had placed his bag near an arcade machine near the door, where he often left it. DeMaria stepped outside of the bar for a cigarette and said he believes that that was when the bag was taken. DeMaria said that he saw nothing until another patron found the bag in the bathroom and brought it to his attention.

Dollar beers has been a Wednesday night special at Lincoln Park for nearly 10 years, said bartender and co-owner Jud Shultz.

“The decision [to end dollar beers] is not indefinite,” Shultz said. “But for now, we just can’t put our other patrons’ and our building’s safety at risk.”

Shultz continued, “We hate to do this, because ultimately it is a loss for us. We’ve always had a close relationship with Fordham.” Both Shultz and Starkie pointed to a $500,000 expansion plan that will extend the bar into a neighboring building as one of the many reasons that management must crack down on dangerous and destructive behavior.

According to a sign posted on the door of Lincoln Park, all patrons will now be required to show two forms of identification in order to enter the bar, another measure taken as a response to the “recent events.”