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Fifth Street Brewpub Becomes Safe Bars Certified

Fifth Street Brewpub Becomes Safe Bars Certified

As breweries across the country look at how to better protect their employees and patrons from sexual violence and harassment, Fifth Street Brewpub in Dayton, Ohio, has sought outside help to train their staff effectively. Fifth Street recently became Gem City Safe Bars-certified through YWCA Dayton, who runs the local chapter of the Safe Bars program.

“The Safe Bars program nationally grew out of the realization that bar industry staff are often the first line of defense against predominantly gender-based or sexual violence,” explains Megan Garrison, the Sexual Assault Program Educator for YWCA Dayton. “Alcohol is often a tool used by perpetrators to commit these crimes. If we’re able to train hospitality staff to recognize signs and intervene safely, we can lessen the chance of an individual becoming a victim.”

Sexual harassment and assault within craft beer have received renewed attention in the last two months in the wake of Brienne Allan’s Instagram post. This post called out harassment, discrimination and sexual violence in the industry. Fifth Street Brewpub had begun their Safe Bars training before Allan’s post, but the timing of their certification allowed for a more robust community conversation.

“It happened serendipitously. Of course even before Brienne’s post, this issue has been stirring for a while, and we wanted to make sure we addressed it and that staff were equipped,” explains Tanya Brock, general manager at Fifth Street and former head brewer at nearby Carillon Brewing Company. Fifth Street Brewpub is a small, cooperatively-owned brewery in the historic St. Anne’s Hill neighborhood of Dayton. They produce only about 500 bbls of beer a year and don’t package or distribute. Much of the focus in response to Allan’s post has understandably been on larger, well-known breweries, but small breweries face unique challenges when it comes to ensuring patron and staff safety.

Local Brewpub, National Problem

“A lot of these breweries are not just breweries,” explains Garrison. She points out that many small breweries really have several distinct business types operating within a single building, including a kitchen, a bar and a production area. “A lot of staff there may not interact with each other all the time, so it’s important to have policies in place for what to do in situations between staff, what a manager should do and when you need to call in outside experts. The goal is to give skills and strategies that empower people to stand up against harassment and assault, how to identify warning signs and patterns of where this is happening and how to use effective bystander strategy for intervening.”

In addition to sexual harassment and violence, the Safe Bars program also trains on how to prevent harassment or violence against the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities.

In order to be Gem City Safe Bars certified, every staff member has to go through the training program, including back-of-house and production staff. Brock says this was extremely valuable for making sure the entire team was on the same page.

“The training overall allowed for an open conversation and helped us be able to identify when our patrons or fellow employees are not feeling comfortable, and how to listen to what that person may need to get out of their situation,” explains Brock. Because Fifth Street is too small to have a dedicated human resources department, Brock feels the training helps assure her staff she’s looking out for them.

“I wanted the staff to know I take this very seriously,” she explains. “I value myself, and our patrons, and them. It’s also important to realize there is no one department that will be addressing this. We as a team need to be able to work together and figure out how it fits for us, as well as signals and signs and code words to notify each other of a situation.”

Help When You Need It

One problem employees face in situations of gender-based or sexual harassment, discrimination or violence is a fear their management may not take their complaints seriously. Even worse, said management may have even been the perpetrator(s) of the wrongdoing. YWCA Dayton provides ongoing assistance to employees of certified bars, providing a way to reach out for help in these situations.

“If you need our guidance, or don’t feel like you have the safety net at your business, you can go outside the bar for help,” explains Garrison. She encourages the bars she trains to include the YWCA directly in their policies in this capacity. The YWCA is also an accredited rape crisis center and maintains a 24-hour crisis hotline.

“I think it’s great for our staff to realize the YWCA is part of the community we serve, and the ones we serve are who they can go to,” says Brock. “If I or another manager is not around, or if they don’t feel comfortable going to management, they can reach out to the Y for help navigating a situation.”

The Gem City Safe Bars program has certified about a half dozen bars in Dayton. Garrison hopes to certify another 10 bars in their upcoming grant year. Brock sees great value is what YWCA Dayton is doing for hospitality businesses.

“There is intent and purpose in what we’re doing at Fifth Street, and we want people to see a visit to our brewery as a safe activity,” she says. “Hopefully this provides some assurance. We want to be a safe space for everyone.

Photos of brewery building courtesy of Fifth Street Brewpub. Beer photo by David Nilsen.

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