St Albans bar offers an escape route from awkward internet dates

Rachelle Philbee and Jennifer Vickers of The Brickyard

Rachelle Philbee and Jennifer Vickers of The Brickyard - Credit: Archant

A cocktail bar has taken a groundbreaking step to ease the fears of customers embarking on online dating.

The Brickyard in Verulam Road, St Albans, has put up a sign in its women’s toilet letting customers know who to contact if they feel uncomfortable on a date.

The novel sign, which has met with global recognition after a Facebook post went viral, reads: “Tinder Date Gone Wrong? Doesn’t look like his picture, or just plain weird? If you’re on a date and it’s not going well, come to the bar and ask for Rachelle or Jennifer and we’ll get you out of it and/or get you a taxi.”

The sign stresses that the safety and happiness of customers is top priority and urges anyone who is being bothered or made to feel uncomfortable to let staff know and the person responsible will be discreetly moved away or asked to leave if necessary.

A customer commended the bar on Facebook by posting a picture of the sign on Friday (15), which has gone viral and been seen across the world.

It has since been posted to photo website imgur and has racked up more than 200,000 page views.

James Hanning, owner of The Brickyard, said that he was amazed by the reaction and never expected it to be so popular.

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He said: “The main feeling we’ve got from people is that more places should do this.”

James came up with the idea after a female customer approached him on a Saturday night while on a date.

He explained: “She came up to me and showed me her telephone and said ‘Does the chap I’m with look like this picture?’.

“It was done quite light-heartedly and we were joking about it at the end and the conversation turned to ‘is there something a bit more here?’

He felt some customers might need prompting to know that there was an option for them to easily get out of an uncomfortable situation.

James continued: “We want people to feel safe, happy and relaxed and should they need any help there are two female managers who are there to intervene if needed. Someone is watching out for them.

“It’s an idea that is having its moment because all this online dating has been very interesting to people and changed their behaviours but it’s also left them feeling a little unsettled.

“Somebody just offering a hand out, something a little old school, more traditional will make them feel comfortable.”

While many people have praised the bar for the sign, some Facebook users questioned if there was a similar version in the male toilets.

James confirmed that they had created a male version which was due to go up in the bar yesterday (Wednesday) evening.

He added: “We were just trying to be helpful; we weren’t trying to change the world so we hadn’t really given it that much thought.

“However now that it has been pointed out to us of course we’re putting up an equivalent message for men.

“In fact, we need to spread it more broadly than that because it shouldn’t be gender specific or specific to any kind of relationship. This is an issue that people face.”