Jason Bravo of Bar Smith

Jason Bravo will be with you in a second -- he has to check the chicken's ID first.

While Bar Smith in downtown Phoenix doesn't typically attract what Bravo calls the "eclectic, First Friday"-type, tonight's attendee in the chicken costume is an exception (the chicken promises he lost a bet).

Bravo laughs, asks the guy to remove his mask and checks his ID. He's been at Bar Smith since April, when he transferred from another downtown bar. He admits to being smaller than a stereotypical bouncer -- he's not 6-foot-4-inches and he weighs less than 250 pounds -- but judging by his calm, yet authoritative demeanor, we're pretty sure he could take any of us in a brawl.

Not that that's what he's about. Bravo says he's all balance. As a Libra (yeah, he knows his sign), he's constantly weighing friendliness and aggressiveness. Now on to things a little more interesting than astrology -- Bravo has a chicken to pat down.

He (Bravo, not the chicken) joins us today for a look behind the ropes at Bar Smith -- the place with a sweet patio lounge, homemade sangria, and weekly chalkboard event. 


Day Job:
I'm an academic adviser at Grand Canyon University. I actually have to be there by 8 a.m. tomorrow. Does it suck not sleeping too much? Yeah, but the pay here is good and and GCU has health benefits.

Best Part of the Job:
The socializing. I get paid to talk to people and make sure people are having a good time. And the hours; they're convenient. It's funny, I'm recently divorced, and the socializing and the hours used to be the "worst" part of my job ... I suppose I'll eventually find a good lady who says "this shit -- like the night job thing -- has got to stop." Until then, I'll be right here.

Worst Part of the Job:
There's always going to be a risk factor in this job. I feel a lot safer here than I did in other places. I've worked security in places where I've been shot at or places where I don't know if people are carrying knives. I still keep a taser in my car. Here, every one gets patted down and I check bags. I want the people in the bar and the guys I'm working with to know that they're safe and can have a good time.

Trick of the Trade:
"What's that? (he motions outside) You're going to have to come outside with me so I can hear you ..." I use that with guys who get upset in the bar. Nine-out-of-ten times it's a dude with a big ego who wants to put on a show for his friends. Ultimately, I don't want to have to touch any one or grab any one. So if I pretend I can't hear you and I get you outside, there's guaranteed to be a cop outside somewhere who can talk you out of whatever mood you're in. 

I don't think anyone would guess that I graduated college with a degree in global business and marketing from ASU. I think a lot of people have this perception of what a "bouncer" is -- some type of meat head who lifts and likes beating people up. Do I like being in shape? Yeah. Do I also have a brain? Yeah.

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Claire Lawton
Contact: Claire Lawton