Belgian Bar Prevents Glassware Theft By Taking One Of Your Shoes

Shoeography | Thursday, August 15, 2019 | 0 comments

Today's shoe story might be a bit off our regularly scheduled footwear highlights but we promise it does have an interesting shoe story and connection.

The booze consuming world is always saturated with grin-inducing tales. The main difference between the smile-inducing stories and eye-roll-inducing ones is simply a matter of perspective. Patrons of alcohol serving establishments are wont to have their wits muddied by the various nectars of Bacchus, thus finding generally questionable antics utterly amusing. The people who work at those establishments have a very different outlook on any number of drink-fuelled tomfooleries.

Between 71% and 73% of Millennials regularly consume some manner of alcohol and, while most of the drinking population is totally fine, there are the mischievous rogues for whom establishment-specific rules are made. Hotels in the U.S. make $208 billion every year, but we don't hear about the amount of that money that goes toward, theft, damages, and the general carelessness that people unleash upon places that aren't their own. Quick answer? It's substantial.

Dulle Griet Picture: ©Arofex Facebook

In Belgium, some beer bars were having problems with patrons walking out with their beer glasses. In the United States, this might not seem like such a big deal, but in Belgium it is. Iced coffee and cold brew date back to 1600s Japan and 1800s Algeria, but Belgian beer predates both by a long shot, so they've had a lot of time to perfect it. Belgian beer is so famous across the world, tourists head to Belgium in droves to drink as much of the famed Belgian brews as they can. Which leads to mischief.
“All our beer glasses are protected against theft,” said Philip Maes. “Some of the glasses are manually crafted and therefore unique; some of the tourists are eager to have their own copy to bring back home as a trophy. Unfortunately, they prefer not to pay for the glass.”

Maes, owner of 2be in Bruges, reported that his bar loses somewhere around $4,000 in beer glasses every year to theft. The beer glasses, which many establishments have custom made for their own bars get expensive. With losses like that, Maes invested thousands of dollars in alarm systems that would be attached to every single beer glass. Still, that doesn't dissuade everyone from their tipsy thievery.

Another bar, Dulle Griet in Ghent, just takes your shoe instead. Yes, you read that correctly. If you want to sit down and have a beer there, you have to cough up one of your shoes. They put all collected shoes in a basket and suspend it from the ceiling. That's the only way you get a beer and the only way you get your shoe back is handing the glass back in. Instagram is packed with photos of people drinking beers with one shoe on. When you see the 1.r liter glasses and wooden stands that holds them upright, you'll understand why they want to protect them from theft.

“Anyone who drinks our house beer must hand over their shoe,” said Dulle Griet owner Alex De Vriendt said. “We then put them in a basket that we put up against the ceiling. The basket has now become an attraction, but for us, it remains a guarantee. The glasses are quite expensive because we have them made especially for us.”

He recognizes the method still doesn't keep all theft from happening and has seen an empty bar with shoes still in the basket, invariably signaling a one-shoed wanderer with an illegally procured souvenir drinking apparatus. Half of customers enter an establishment because of signage, but it was this unique anti-theft system that drew more people in. Its peculiarity attracted people to the establishment because nothing beats pairing a good beer with Instagram photos that tell fun stories.

Overall, De Vriendt seems to have a good sense of humor about it:

“We actually accept all kinds of shoes, but we realize that a flip-flop is not as valuable as the beer glass,” he said.

Be a polite patron and stick to buying your souvenirs.

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