ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – A picture of a Tampa Bay area bartender’s quick-thinking note to help save his customer from a “creep” at the bar has gone viral. The bartender, who has been approached by people from the Netherlands, Brazil and the UK – spoke for the first time to 8 On Your Side about his new-found international recognition.
The now-viral photo was snapped by Trinity Allie last Sunday, June 13, at “No Vacancy” in St. Petersburg. Allie later tweeted the image.
In her tweet, Allie said she was at the bar when a man started harassing her and a friend. That’s when Allie said her bartender, Max Gutierrez, handed her and her friend what looked like a receipt on a clipboard.
Instead, it was a note from the bartender.
“If this guy is bothering you, put your ponytail on your other shoulder and I will have him removed,” the note said. “He’s giving ME the creeps!”
Allie tweeted the photo saying, “legit the type of bartender everyone needs.”
The tweet – and the photo of Gutierrez – quickly went viral. As of Tuesday, it has more than 217,000 likes and 45,000 retweets.
More than a week later, Gutierrez and Allie reunited for the first time on Tuesday. 8 On Your Side was there, and got the chance to speak with both of them.
Gutierrez told us he noticed Allie and her friend being harassed by another customer that day at the bar and knew he had to help them.
“You get hit on and whatnot but some people won’t take no for an answer,” Allie said of the incident.
She recalled how annoyed she was by the other man at the bar who she said wouldn’t leave her and her friend alone.
“No bartender has ever stepped in for me and that’s why I thought it was so great and everyone should hear about it,” Allie said Tuesday about why she tweeted the picture.
Allie, who lives in St. Pete and is in the business herself as a local server, said she never had to use the creative and quick-thinking signal the bartender came up with because before she could, the man began physically brushing up on her. That’s when Gutierrez asked him to leave and he did.
“Everyone is like, we need more bartenders like this,” Allie said about the reaction that she has received from others who have seen her post and reached out.
Many of them are calling Gutierrez a hero — and Allie agrees.
“You never know what could have happened,” she said. “Say he didn’t step in and this guy followed me and my friend out when we left.”
Gutierrez is humbled by the praise.
“I see all the ‘hero bartender’ messages but I’m not a hero, I was just doing my job,” he said.
Gutierrez’ boss Stephen Schrutt is proud. Schrutt is the CEO and founder of Hunger Thirst Group, which owns several Tampa Bay bars including No Vacancy, The Avenue and the Park and Rec locations in St. Pete and Tampa.
Schrutt said he’ll be encouraging other employees to use the same creative strategies that Gutierrez came up with last Sunday.
“Take a page out of Max’s book. This is what it’s about,” he said. “You’re not just selling food and drinks, you’re making sure people are safe.”