Friday September 7, 2012

Someone recently asked me whose idea it was to have bag checks at The Beacon. I explained that it was not anyone’s idea or even desire, but rather a policy borne out of necessity.

Many people may not be aware that we are the only movie theater in Berkshire County offering alcoholic beverages for sale to its customers. As holders of a Massachusetts Alcohol License, The Beacon must ensure that we control what is consumed on our premises. As we began to discover empty bottles of various sorts of alcoholic beverages and alcohol disguised in other types of containers left behind in our theaters, we realized that we had no choice but to check at entry lest we put our license in jeopardy.

Similarly, as holders of a city of Pittsfield Food Service Permit, we have an obligation to control the food consumed on the premises to protect the health and safety of staff and customers as well as doing our best to provide a pleasant customer experience. We recently had to send a staff person with a nut allergy to the hospital because she came into contact with food not provided by us while cleaning a theater. That could have just as easily happened to a patron. We have also had to clean up messes made by everything from leftover Chi nese food to chicken bones and pizza as well as having to rid the theaters of un pleasant odors from outside food.

As any business would, we certainly hope, but do not require that our customers patronize the concession stand. We merely ask that they do not treat our theaters like a public picnic ground and respect our obligation to protect our licenses, permits and environment for the benefit of all. Many of our customers understand this, but as usual it is those who don’t who force us to adopt policies that we would just as soon avoid.

No policy can be effective unless it applies, without ex ception, to all. That is why we ask everyone for proof of age when buying wine or beer and why we ask to inspect all bags and hold outside food and non-alcoholic drink for pick up after the show. We continually reinforce with our staff the need to conduct these checks in a pleasant, positive, minimally invasive manner. Our customers can help facilitate this by their understanding and cooperation.

For similar reasons, these practices have become increasingly commonplace at ballparks, concert and other entertainment venues. While it may be relatively new at movie theaters it has, regrettably, be come just as necessary for ours.

JOHN VALENTE

New Marlborough

The writer is the general manager of the Beacon Cinema.