Bartender at Rice Institution Valhalla Threatens to Cut Off Alumnus's Necktie

Categories: News

valhallahouston.jpg
Photo by Flickr user richhumofair
The entrance to Valhalla, a bar that seems to have an issue with neckties on men.
Certain bars in Houston have long been notorious for their dress codes. For example, in 2012, Tyler Deric, a backup goalie for the Houston Dynamo, became involved in a physical and legal altercation outside Heights bar Roosevelt Lounge after being denied entry because his group of friends "didn't meet the dress code." Deric maintained the dress code excuse was merely a front for disallowing his black friends entry. In 2011 the Press did a cover story on how various Houston bars use dress codes and other door policies to actively discriminate against their clientele.

So it might be a surprise that one Houston bar has what is apparently a reverse-dress code. But a Rice alumnus was kicked out of Valhalla last Thursday for the most innocuous of clothing -- a necktie.

The alumnus -- he did not want to use his real name, so we'll call him Irving -- graduated from Rice University in 2008. He said he likes to wear ties to work now, because men get only so many socially acceptable fashion accessories (and we've all agreed that fedoras are douche-y). But apparently Valhalla, the underground graduate student-run bar on the Rice campus, has a long-standing "tradition" against ties, so Irving was kicked out. Not just kicked out. Banned.

Here's what happened. Pay attention, because it gets convoluted: Irving showed up at Valhalla around 7 p.m., right after work, to get a drink and hang out with some friends. He ordered a beer at the bar and went outside. About an hour later he went back inside to get a second beer. Later, when he went for a third beer, a bartender told him she wouldn't serve him until he took off his tie.

Irving thought that was stupid, so he refused to remove it. (It should also be noted that he was wearing a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches, but it was the tie at which the bartender took umbrage.) According to Irving, the first bartender called another bartender over to discuss. Irving's friend tried to buy him a beer instead in an attempt to calm the situation. Then a third bartender joined the fray, armed with a pair of scissors, and threatened to cut Irving's tie right off of his neck.

At this point Irving was holding two beers: his and his friend's. He had the beer he wanted, so he moved outside. Meanwhile, the bartenders figured out his name, and, according to Irving, kept looking outside, glaring at his group.

My Voice Nation Help
90 comments
orgo
orgo

haha, take your tie off douche!

tacotwist
tacotwist

Totally unsurprising attention-whoring and general douchebaggery from Evan Mintz.  He was like this in college, too.

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

Private college, private club, private mentality. These stalwart, anti-establishment rebels without a clue are the same ones who will graduate to a high paying job and immediately beat feet for the nearest EXCLUSIVE *cough* gated *cough* COMMUNITY.

t8km3cereal
t8km3cereal

I love Valhalla, but I fucking hate this rule. Sometimes I like to wear a tie. Most of the bartenders really don't care, but three or four of them are complete assholes about it.

Thierry Langford
Thierry Langford

I would never want go to an establishment that is so pretentious over NOTHING and one that harasses well-meaning and PAYING clientele over an issue with a dress-code obviously designed by asshole jocks. Shame on them.

Deborah Harris
Deborah Harris

The place and the people are no joke. They are the real deal.

Jay Zissou Dryden
Jay Zissou Dryden

Did no one notice the column covered in severed ties in there? From attached link: Of course, undergraduate students aren’t the only ones who like to blow off steam. One of the most cherished traditions for graduate students is gathering at Valhalla, the graduate student pub, after a long day of classes and research. “It’s a little hobbit hole of a bar, underneath the steps of Keck Hall,” Marshall said. In its 40-year history, the bar has become known for its inexpensive beer and friendly volunteer bartenders. But despite Valhalla’s relaxed atmosphere, tie-wearers beware! “There was a bartender at Valhalla named John Schroeder who worked there for over 20 years and imposed a very strict dress code,” Marshall said. “To this day, if you wear a tie into Valhalla, you will have it severed from your body and the remnants will be displayed on a trophy wall in the bar.” http://news.rice.edu/2011/11/04/the-story-behind-rice-traditions/

jordanschermer
jordanschermer

This blog post shows a tremendous lack of understanding of Rice's quirks.

Chris Bucklin
Chris Bucklin

Someone has watched Coyote too many times. Nothing says relaxed vibe like "I'll take a scissors to you if you don't dress how I want you to."

GBeiner
GBeiner

People are saying this is a "long standing tradition" I'm calling BS on that. The "tradition" was started within the last 5-7 years and only applies on Friday afternoons and after PhD defenses. I got served (with a tie on) up until the same female bartender that wouldn't serve Evan started working. My primary issue I feel isn't even with the rule, it is with how rude they were about it. Especially to alumnus who have been frequenting that same bar wearing a necktie, every time, for the past 8 years. I have never once been told to remove my tie while enjoying a beer at Valhalla until that night.

Say_No_To_Douche
Say_No_To_Douche

As a spectator that night, I can say that the bigger issue, completely missed in this article, was the level of douche just pouring out from this kid as he's screaming. All anybody has to do is just take off your tie and put it in your pocket, which a guy did later with minimal fuss. But when you act like that much of a spoiled brat, as typical of Rice undergrads, you're not gonna get served anywhere.

sales435
sales435

Oh, and the multiple cut ties hanging on the wall are from Rice grad students who have just defended their PhDs and stop off to celebrate with a beer while wearing their "impress the thesis committee" suits.  They have fun getting their ties ceremonially shorn and taped to the wall, then enjoy a few brews to celebrate.  That is a very recent wrinkle to the late bartender's former Friday afternoon tradition.  It's kinda fun.  But it's still just for new Rice PhDs. 

Sabrina Sutherland
Sabrina Sutherland

Where the hell is this place ? Hmm what if I came in with a tie ?

sales435
sales435

A little perspective, from someone who has been around Rice/Valhalla for longer than all of the current bartenders: There was once a very cool Valhalla bartender (now passed on to the real Valhalla) who started the tradition of no ties ON FRIDAY AFTERNOONS in Valhalla (his shift was 4 -5 p.m. Friday). It was intended as an encouragement to loosen and remove the tie that symbolized your working week indenture--the weekend is here, and you're having a beer, relax!  That was it. The threat of the cut off tie was just that, mostly just a threat, but occasionally it would be done--in good fun--after a "repeat offender" had had the tradition politely explained.

Some of these more recent Valhalla bartenders, apparently unaware that they are fucking up the tradition, have gone militant, and from my own experience, some of them are pretty rude about it too. Many professors who used to stop off with their grad students on a weeknight no longer do so.  I suspect that's partly why.  I wish they would return the "rule" about ties to Friday afternoons as in the past (and ask people, politely, to remove their ties and explain the rule-- many people honestly don't know). And, bottom line, DON'T BE A DICK ABOUT IT. 

rexdumonde
rexdumonde

Fedoras are not douche-y...douche-y people who wear fedoras are douche-y.

truthfultexan
truthfultexan

Who the hell cares? More importantly, why are you wearing a tie to a roach-infested hole in the wall that reeks of piss, shitty beer, and broken dreams?

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

Dress codes are dumb and every place should get rid of them.

Cgs220
Cgs220

Wow, sounds like someone is bitter...

IntBank001
IntBank001

@Thierry Langford Here here! I'll never give Valhalla another dime. Bunch of fascists, what's to stop them from making up any reason not to serve you. And they take credit cards or have an ATM Machine on site.

eggmah
eggmah

@GBeiner Ummm I graduated in 96 (Ph.D.).  It was going on then and only on Friday, with rare exceptions.

RiceAlum
RiceAlum

@Say_No_To_Douche Evan Mintz is an unabashed attention whore, and he probably wouldn't hesitate to admit it. Hardly 'typical of Rice undergrads' though, that one's his own kind of special. The bigger news here is that he wouldn't give his real name for this piece despite plastering his complaints all over the internet for days now.

IntBank001
IntBank001

@Sabrina Sutherland You'd be immediately banned by the fascists that run the place. 

eggmah
eggmah

@sales435 FYI the person who has moved to Valhalla :((((  could get a bit over enthusiastic about tie cutting.... my advisor had to fend him off without warning, before my time.  He always took off his tie after that....

othellofellow
othellofellow

@Kylejack if a bar's schtick is cutting off patron's ties and hanging them on the wall, maybe don't wear a tie to that bar? even sounds like they gave him a chance to remove it and he refused. 

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

Yeah, I'm not the one kicking and screaming because the mean girls at a pretentious little basement bar wouldn't take my money. Nor am I in the habit of removing other people's clothes for anti-establishment 'cred.'

IntBank001
IntBank001

**Don't take credit cards or have an ATM machine on site.**

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@othellofellow Dumb rules call for civil disobedience. I applaud Evan's bold stand for people dressing how they want to dress.

lulza
lulza

@MadMac Watch out guys, MadMac is a badass. Hardest guy the comments section has ever seen.

lulza
lulza

@MadMac Watch out guys, MadMac is a badass. Hardest guy the comments section has ever seen.

lulza
lulza

@MadMac Watch out guys, MadMac is a badass. Hardest guy the comments section has ever seen.

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

@Cgs220, I've been to your little parlor and no, it's not a dive bar. Raleigh's on Telephone Road was a dive bar, Frank's Icehouse on Irvington was a dive bar, and any number of Lindale/Eastwood/Pecan Park cantinas are dive bars. Dive bars don't have dress codes or marker boards and if someone gets cut--it's not their tie, btw--and it's not with scissors.

Ricekid
Ricekid

@MadMac Wow, sounds like someone is bitter

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

You keep track of petty little "titles?" You must be a private school grad, SG.

SadGrad
SadGrad

@MadMac Nah, you're just a top commenter on the Houston Press Blog. Glad to see you're moving up in life. 

Cgs220
Cgs220

Neither am I, buddy.  But I AM one of the bartenders.  I don't give a shit about whether or not someone wants to wear a tie.  And have you ever been to Valhalla?  Not exactly pretentious, more like dive bar.

IntBank001
IntBank001

@Say_No_To_Douche @IntBank001 Don't worry I won't. Willy's is just as close and much friendlier with better beer selection. And they don't hassle you about your ID every time you want to get a drink. 

SadGrad
SadGrad

@Kylejack @othellofellow @SadGrad Refused service over refusing to take off his tie, but asked to leave because Evan Mintz became loud/aggressive and began yelling at the bartender. Perfectly germane. 

Even his friend's article in Houstonia describes Evan as shouting at the bartenders, as someone who has to have the last word, and as someone who won't do something because "DON'T TELL HIM WHAT TO DO"

othellofellow
othellofellow

@Kylejack @SadGrad Perfectly fine to disagree with a private establishment's rule and find another place to drink if you don't like it (I think the tie thing is kind of dumb myself, but also not worth causing a fuss over). But if this Mr. Irving was being argumentative and yelling at the bartender, then he definitely should have been refused service and asked to leave the bar. 

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@SadGrad @Kylejack Precisely, he had to remove the tie to get a beer, which is the issue at hand.

SadGrad
SadGrad

@Kylejack @SadGrad Up the point that Evan Mintz became loud and argumentative in the bar, he could have easily gotten a beer by removing the tie. Instead of doing that or simply leaving if he valued his manner of dress over more beer, he yelled at the bartender. Name any bar that would let you treat their staff that way and continue serving you alcohol.

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@SadGrad You're using something that happened after he was denied service to justify him being denied service. By that point he was already turned down.

SadGrad
SadGrad

@Kylejack @soapdodger That may be what he reported, but from sitting at the bar that was the opposite of what I saw. Evan Mintz was defensive and argumentative, and then stood on the rungs of his stool to lean over the bar and yell at the bartender to give him a beer. Pull that in any bar and you'll get thrown out, tie or no tie.

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@soapdodger @Kylejack Not true, soapdodger, Irving reported that he chuckled with them at first and tried to play it off, but they insisted, and even came at him with scissors.

soapdodger
soapdodger

@Kylejack If this was a normal for-profit bar I would agree, but Valhalla is a non-profit bar run by volunteers that don't get paid. They do it for the fun, and shenanigans result, and that's part of the charm. Another "rule" is that naked people get free beer to support Baker 13, so it's all in good fun. Most bartenders don't follow the no-tie rule, and those that do do it playfully. It sounds like when the bartenders made a joke of telling him to take his tie off (like I've seen a hundred times), he acted like and asshole, and that's where the conflict began. If you're not going to be part of the culture of the bar, then go pay full price at a bar that is there to make a profit.

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@othellofellow The way people dress is often one of the ways they express who they are and what they're like. You don't need to be Gandhi or MLK Jr. to stand up for something. People make stands on all kinds of frivolous topics, so I don't see what's wrong with doing so about dress codes.

othellofellow
othellofellow

@Kylejack @othellofellow "civil disobedience"? you're going to a grad student bar known for cheap beer. and the best argument you and "irving" can give is that the rule is "stupid" or "dumb".  not exactly gandhi material. 

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...