By Danny Wicentowski
By Lindsay Toler
By RFT Staff
By Lindsay Toler
By Allison Babka
By Lindsay Toler
By Lindsay Toler
By Ray Downs
Although some employees have not been officially banned, once one gets on the rolls as a troublemaker, the result is the same. Example: Union Station spokesman Gorman says Teall quit his job at the Hard Rock Café of his own accord. But Teall scoffs at this, maintaining that the security officers' oppressive actions forced him to quit. "After that beating, I was totally shadowed," he says. "As soon as I got on the property, I'd be followed by security. Whenever I had to do anything in the mall, they'd be right there, following me."
Landry's Seafood House has had one casualty of the banishment policy. Andrew Bricker, 23, thought he had a career with the national chain. He had worked his way up the ladder from busboy to bar manager and was considered a model employee. Bricker says his problems began eighteen months ago, when he and fellow Landry's bartender Kirk Brown went to deliver some rum to Route 66 Brewery & Restaurant, also located in Union Station. Bricker parked his car in the loading zone, flashers on, while Brown went in with the booze.
A security guard arrived and asked him to move the car. Bricker says he explained that he was making a delivery, but the guard persisted and eventually called for backup. "Within a minute," says Bricker, "a dozen security officers come out. They surround my car, pull their nightsticks, their Mace. They start screaming at me and rock the car. A guy at the window, a big, big black guy, says, 'Get out of the car, white boy. I'm gonna make you my bitch!'"
The confrontation escalated until a public-safety supervisor came and calmed the situation. Bricker and Brown left. The next day, Bricker spoke with security head Scavatta -- who, Bricker says, informed him that he'd "fired a few people and demoted some others" over the incident. Scavatta declined to be interviewed for this article.
A week later, Bricker was involved in another incident in the same loading zone. Security threatened to place a parking boot on Bricker's car. Bricker argued, and the officer didn't persist. But the next day, Scavatta called Landry's general manager Chris Durso and told him Bricker had to write an apology or face banishment. "I debated it," says Bricker. "It is an abuse of power. They can't control you, they threaten to ban you, and you'll lose your job. Banning should be a last resort."
Bricker ended up complying with Scavatta's request for a written apology. "They left me alone for a long time after that," says Bricker. One night last month, however, another confrontation took place between Bricker and Brown and Union Station security -- this one involving mutual taunting and cursing and a lewd gesture by Bricker.
It stirred the coals, though, and the next night, when Bricker visited his girlfriend at Route 66, he says, six security officers grabbed his wrists and hauled him to the security office nearby. Fearing for his safety, three people called 911, and city police soon joined the party -- as referees. Security called Scavatta at home.
Bricker says Scavatta told him not to talk to the police who were there. Instead, he said, he and Bricker would meet with a mall patrolman the next day and iron things out. Bricker told Scavatta to buzz off -- he'd talk to whomever he wished. Scavatta took offense; he told Bricker that he had just earned his third strike and was now officially banned.
That was Bricker's last day at Landry's.
"I lost a key bartender over this, and it put us in a bind," says Landry's assistant general manager Doug Davis, flummoxed over the worsening situation. "We want them to enforce rules. But our stance is, catch one of our guys breaking a rule on their private time away from this place, it's a police matter. But not this 'banishment.' We can't do that. They haven't broken any rules here. In essence, management is asking us to say, 'We're firing you for something we heard you did someplace else.' It's all hearsay anyway. You get charged with a crime, you get your day in court. Now there's one person over there who's judge, jury and executioner of this policy. That can't be."
Davis refers to Jim Scavatta. Key West's Costello says the problems with public safety began about five years ago but have gotten noticeably worse in the last year-and-a-half, since Scavatta came on board. "They seem to have brought in a new crew, and these guys are really military and Gestapo-like in their tactics."
Costello, 40, who has been banned and arrested by public safety in the past, says the problem starts at the top: "It all has to do with upper management. The security guards themselves I have no real problems with, although they need better training. I mean, why create a hostile atmosphere? Maybe management should have more off-duty St. Louis police officers in here who are trained to deal with people, rather than these guys who are told by upper levels of security how to behave."
Meanwhile, Kirk Brown, Andrew Bricker's pal, has been banned, too. Unlike Bricker, Brown has chosen to lead the life of an outlaw, skulking around, trying to evade the authorities. "Kirk's still sneaking in," says Bricker, "but that's not gonna work. It's only a matter of time before he'll get caught. These people hide in the bushes, behind the Dumpsters. It's like a SWAT team or something. Sometimes he has to go on the roof to see where they're hiding so he can run out to his car."