The muscle at Chuck's

Patrick Farrell talks bar brawls and overheard gossip at a popular college bar.

Patrick Farrell perches on a stool in a dimly lit corner of the bustling bar that’s filled with intoxicated college students. He wears a backward Yankees cap and a mustard-yellow T-shirt with a haunting clown face (the bar’s logo) scrawled across the front. After adjusting his cap and checking his watch, he continues scanning the crowd. To his right, students squeeze their way toward the bar to buy pitchers of beer. But as he looks to his left, he sees a man with his hands around another’s neck.

“I want everyone to have a good time, but I don’t want anyone to get hurt."
- Patrick Farrell

Farrell shoves his way through the rowdy crowd and pulls the two men apart.  Without warning, a girl swings a Bud Light bottle down on his head from behind. The bottle falls to the floor and shatters, beer saturating his shirt. Farrell turns around and finds a small brunette with heavy mascara, wearing a skin-tight, black mini skirt 

“Don’t touch my boyfriend!” she screams as she tries to shove Farrell out of the way. Despite his confusion and mounting frustration, Farrell grabs the “happy” couple by the arms and hauls them out the front door in one motion. 

It’s 11 Thursday night at Chuck’s Café. 

While Farrell, 23, nears his one year mark of working at Chuck’s near the Syracuse University campus this August, he knows the college watering hole as well as any of the seasoned bouncers. Having grown up just north of Syracuse in Liverpool, the construction management senior at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry hung out at Chuck’s regularly before he became a permanent fixture as one of four bouncers on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday nights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. 

At 5-foot-11 and average build, with dark hair and a short, scruffy beard, Farrell does not resemble the stereotypical bouncer.

“When people think bouncers, they think big, muscular guys that are mean and full of themselves,” he says. “That’s not me.”

After ejecting the couple, Farrell returns to his stool, where he typically remains silent for most of his shift. He socializes with bar-goers only when they approach him. Despite his reserved character, Farrell takes his peacekeeping role seriously. 

“I want everyone to have a good time, but I don’t want anyone to get hurt,” he says. 

Farrell scans the crowd again and smiles to himself as he observes the inevitable moments that occur at any drinking establishment: obnoxious attempts at singing along to “Sweet Caroline,” by Neil Diamond, numerous failed pickup lines and overheard girl gossip in the bathroom line. It’s his favorite part of the evening.

“Number 23 totally has my number and says he’s going to call me,” says a stumbling blonde to her friend. The blonde takes a sip out of her cup and spills a trail of beer down the front of her shirt. Her friend laughs, and then pauses to lean on the wall and regain her balance. 

“Never going to happen,” Farrell says to himself as they walk by. He shakes his head and laughs before checking his watch for the eighth time this evening. 

Despite working at the popular college bar, Farrell doesn’t let it go to his head. 

“It’s not as cool as everyone thinks,” he says. “I just needed some money and Chuck’s presented the opportunity for an interesting job close to home. It would be nice to say it pays the bills, but I wouldn’t go that far,” he says with a laugh.

Then he scans the crowd again and waits.


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