GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — A night out or first date should be a fun experience, but if the situation turns sour, fear can soon set in. City Built Brewing Company is working to keep their customers safe, by implementing its Angel Ale program, in which individuals can use to ask staff for assistance.
The Angel Ale won't be found on a menu or on tap. In fact, it's not a drink at all. It's a signal, and instructions can only be found in the women's bathroom.
Here's how it works: Ordering a 10 oz Angel Ale sends a message to servers and managers that the individual feels unsafe or uneasy. Workers will keep an eye on the customer and their date for further assistance. Those who order a 16 oz Angel Ale will be escorted to a safe place by staff and will be transported home, free of charge.
"We Uber them home at our cost that way they don't have to worry about it," said Edwin Callazo, City Built Brewing Company's CEO.
The idea started when the company's taproom manager saw a similar method online. Callazo said the business quickly adopted their own version and trained employees how to handle each situation.
"We have a very similar program for our staff where they can talk to a manager and say 'hey yellow light, green light, red light' whatever and those different things mean different actions," Callazo added.
The initiative was originally created to be secret and discrete. However, it received traction after customers posted positive reviews and photos on social media. With knowledge around the program growing, the business decided to embrace the attention, showing community members that they can come to the restaurant for a safe night out.
"Rather than be quiet, be loud about it, so then people understand that this is a place that people can come and know that we are sensitive to the fact that people may not feel safe or comfortable. We are a venue that they can come for a first date or come with someone they may not know and know they have a way to get out of an uncomfortable situation," Callazo said.
He added that while most reviews have been positive, many are wondering why the sign is only in the women's restroom, rather than the men's as well.
"One in four women endure a relationship that’s abusive, versus one in seven men. So, we understand the issue is broader than just women. We get to shine the light where we want, and that’s where were shining the light," Callazo explained.
While management said they have not had to use the scenario in real life, Callazo said he is happy it's available to provide protection for the community.
"It all plays in that direction, so having Angel Ales is part of a bigger goal of being a safe place for community, for conversation, and ultimately, we’ve started a conversation which is great," he said.
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