Wise Guys employee not notified of lounge’s closure

Losing your job is typically not a pleasant experience for anyone to go through, but imagine having to find out your job no longer exists through Facebook.

That’s what happened to Jocelyn Diamond, a former employee at the now closed Wise Guys On Campus lounge last fall, who found out the lounge was closing through the social networking site.

Diamond explained that she had tried to contact the managers of Wise Guys at the beginning of the fall semester to see when she should come in for her first shift, but was not able to get in touch with them. A week later, she called the lounge again, only to find the phone line had been disconnected.

“That’s when I went to Facebook for answers, sadly, and went to the group’s page [ . . . ] and someone had written ‘What’s this? Wise Guys is closed forever?’,” said Diamond.

Eventually, Diamond was able to get in touch with a co-worker, who told her that the bar had been closed down, although she says other employees of Wise Guys also tried and failed to get a hold of the lounge’s management.

Diamond said that to her knowledge, she was on good terms with her employer, though she hasn’t been able to contact any of the former managers since the bar’s closure.

“To actually find out this way was really saddening. [ . . . ] I really enjoyed working there, regardless of what I knew or didn’t know,” said Diamond.

The lounge was shut down last fall after its liquor licence was cancelled by the non-profit organization who held it, the Bison Alumni and Friends Association.

Diamond said that though her and her co-workers had heard rumours that the lounge might close, she “didn’t really think anything of it.”

“[ . . . ] Our last year was kind of rough. I don’t think sales were as good as they normally were,” said Diamond.

She said that the inspectors from the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission were in the lounge constantly.

Diamond said the MLCC “was watching us a lot” because the type of liquor licence the lounge held was for a private club, explaining that the employees of Wise Guys had to be extra careful to ensure that everyone in the lounge was a member or guest of member.

It was also sometime difficult for employees to spot underage drinkers, especially when dealing with large events, said Diamond.

“It wasn’t the bartender doing it deliberately, [ . . . ] because we took precautions to make sure that people who are underage are well identified, but those students who are underage who really want that alcohol will try anything to get it,” said Diamond.

“Even if they try using a friend to buy it for them, the bartender doesn’t know that they’re doing that. [ . . . ] All it takes is for one person from MLCC to catch that and there’s your ticket.”

Wise Guys On Campus came before the MLCC licensing board in June 2009 for failing to maintain their guest register book in a proper manner and allowing people who were not members or guests of members into the lounge. They were issued a two-day suspension of their licence.

MLCC spokesperson Diane Soroka explained that the inspections department operates on a progressive disciplinary system. She said the MLCC will first attempt to provide education or issue a warning to an establishment before an infraction is brought before the licensing board.

“By the time you get to the licensing board, it generally means that there’s been ongoing problems,” said Soroka.

University of Manitoba director of public affairs John Danakas said that the university was only responsible for ensuring the owners of Wise Guys On Campus adhered to the conditions of their lease, but added that “when there’s a drinking establishment on campus, certainly it’s an ongoing conversation about how to keep the establishment as safe as possible.”

Attempts by The Manitoban to contact former managers of the Wise Guys On Campus were unsuccessful, and the lounge’s phone number has been disconnected.