Tom & Marty’s charged at the door for the first time in the bar’s history this weekend, enacting its own take on the one-drink minimum.
On Friday and Saturday, Tom & Marty’s charged $3 for admission after 11:30 p.m, but in return, customers received a token for a complimentary shot worth $3 from the bar’s signature “Shot Wheel.”
Prior to this weekend, Tom & Marty’s was the only bar on its end of State Street that didn’t charge a cover, and Larry Shea, who co-owns the bar with his brother, said he began struggling with crowds who would enter for free but not spend money on drinks.
Shea said his solution — a one-drink minimum of sorts — is the traditional business model for bars that offer live entertainment, such as strip clubs, which face similar problems.
“People would show up for the show, but then they weren’t really doing what the bar is in business for, which is buying drinks,” he said. “We are obviously not offering live entertainment, and we’re obviously not a strip club, but we are tremendously small.”
Shea said he plans to keep the cover for the remainder of the semester, which he is treating as an experiment to see if it would work in the future.
Many of the bar’s regulars seem to support the cover, saying it may thin out Tom & Marty’s crowds.
“The cover charge is the weed killer in the garden of fun that is Tom & Marty’s,” said Bryan Shankman, a junior majoring in English who frequents Tom & Marty’s three to four times per week. “Before you would have some kids come and and just eat space and not buy drinks and stuff, but now if you’re coming to Tom & Marty’s you’re paying $3 to get in so you have to mean business.”
Alex Jaffe, who goes to Tom & Marty’s “at least four days a week,” said he is fine with the cover as long as it remains as is: limited to Fridays and Saturdays after 11:30 p.m.
“To the people that utilize Tom & Marty’s for what it is, it just means we have to buy a drink, which we were going to do anyway,” said Jaffe, a graduate student studying public administration.
However, the cover may have an impact on people without a bar of preference, such as Kerensa Crump, who said she goes to State Street roughly twice per month.
Crump, a senior double-majoring in integrative neuroscience and biochemistry, said she probably won’t go to Tom & Marty’s in the future as long as there is a cover.
“I probably won’t go there. I usually go to Dillinger’s because it’s free,” she said. “I’d rather be able to choose for my money than use a ‘Shot Wheel.’”
However, Jasmine Carrig, a senior majoring in English who chooses the bar she attends based on her mood, said she has gone to Tom & Marty’s in the past to avoid a cover but she would still attend the bar even with a fee going forward.
“T&M appeals to me in a different way than the other bars do because of its atmosphere,” she said. “I like going there so a cover charge is not going to stop me.”