More local bars have made a public commitment to safety. Since the AGLC’s Best Bar None program launched in Grande Prairie five years ago, the number of venues taking part has nearly tripled.
The accreditation program judges bars on factors like how they deal with violence and drugs and their workplace safety and cleanliness standards. This year’s local lineup increased to 14 with the addition of Brown’s Socialhouse, Trumps Lounge at the Stonebridge Hotel, and The Industry.
Industry owner Deven Long bought the bar previously known as Breakers downtown three years ago. He says he wanted to take part in the Best Bar None program earlier but was too busy trying to get rid of what he calls a reputation for being the “skeeziest in town”.
“Everything was already in place so it wasn’t a hard transition,” Long explains. “I didn’t have a designated taxi place, so I made one for the program. It was just simple things like that that we didn’t have, but we already did pretty much everything anyway.”
Since purchasing the bar on 100 Avenue, Long says he fired all the previous staff, did major renovations, and hired a security team. Bartender Brandon Manley has been promoted to manager and says they have added extra security measures like a free shuttle service and strive to create a welcoming atmosphere for a diverse crowd.
“I’m the only drag queen in town so when people come and see me on our diversity nights… they can be there and not have to worry because they know if I can be there being the way that I am, they can be there the way that they are and not have any repercussions.”
An awards ceremony was held Tuesday night to recognize this year’s Best Bar None participants and give trophies to the top ranked in each category. Madhatters was named Best Bar/Club for the third time, Trumps Lounge won Best Lounge in its debut, and Howlers Lounge and the Great Northern Casino were shoo-ins in the campus bar and casino categories respectively.
Better Than Fred’s, the Crown and Anchor Pub, Diamonds Gentlemen’s Club, Maddhatters, and The Den Pub and Carvery were all recognized for their fifth year in the program. 2018 also marked the introduction of People’s Choice Awards, and based on the votes of 700 people Maddhatters was recognized as the Best Bar with the Best Food, and Better Than Fred’s was given the Best Staff honours.