There is something unmistakably alluring and sexy about the large blue shark awning on Thayer Street. The words “Bar, Grille, Hookah, Sushi” are displayed underneath: a plethora of things that represent all that is good and well in the world of Brown students. However, my friends, we hope you will dig a little deeper the next time you consider going to Shark. Beneath the glitz and glam are some shady characters and fishy dealings that you might not want to get yourself involved in…
Jokichi v. Shark
It was a Saturday evening, and a few of my friends and I were excited to start the night off with dinner at what we thought was Thayer’s hottest venue. As we approached the door, we spotted two large bouncers blocking the entrance.
“ID’s,” he said. Sharp and curt.
I told him I was 19 and I’d be happy to show him my ID. He didn’t seem very pleased, and replied we weren’t gonna be allowed in. But according to the rules posted on their wall outside, Shark only becomes a bar at 10 p.m. – we were there at 9:10. When we asked him why, he told us that we weren’t up to the dress code.
“Your shoes man, we can’t have those sneakers up in here,” he told my friend.
Despite the fact that inside we could see a guy wearing sweatpants, and several girls in Ugg boots, we were not up to “standard” with our sneakers. Again, we pointed this discrepancy out to him.
“You know what, it’s not even about the shoes,” he said. Well, what was it about then?
He scoffed, and told us it was obvious that we would steal drinks. He said he couldn’t “babysit” a bunch of college kids who couldn’t handle their liquor. The disrespectful tone was hurtful to say the least, but this was just the tip of the iceberg…
Afterwards, we spoke to Jack ’16, who also fell victim to the Shark bouncers. While celebrating his friend’s birthday, one of his friends became a little rowdy and started to throw some of the ice from the large “shark-bowl” drink. The bouncers told him to stop, and after the second warning they told him to leave.
The bouncer started pushing Jack’s friend towards the door, and Jack jumped in beside them.
“No Touching!” he yelled, in joking reference to George Sr. of Arrested Development.
The bouncer looked at Jack, then “stuck his arm out really fast…put his hand on my neck [and] really got up in there,” said Jack. Although he wasn’t squeezing very hard, when Jack swatted the bouncer’s hand away, the bouncer quickly put it back on Jack’s neck. Jack’s friends started yelling, and they all made their way out the door. But as they were leaving, Jack’s friend Caroline* came out crying because the bouncer “had struck her in the face.”
But our problems with Shark go beyond aggressive bouncers and poor customer service at an overhyped venue. After recent developments last week, it became very clear there was something lurking beneath the water.
Last month, Shark gained national attention for bribing current Rhode Island Speaker of the House Gordon Fox $52,500 in order to obtain a liquor license. “I did what I had to do,” said former owner Joe Doloma in an interview with NBC 10.
While this may have been a reasonable excuse in 1970s Buddy Cianci-era Providence, the transaction occurred in 2008. This was about the same time Anthony Santurri, owner of the nightclub Colosseum, obtained his liquor license, a process he describes as “straightforward.” Why would Shark need to illegally shell out $52,500 for something that’s straightforward?
Regardless of motive, money didn’t seem to be much of a concern for Shark, who spent $225,000 on their shark tank (which isn’t actually that outlandish considering current giant-fish tank prices).
Shark hasn’t yet been penalized for bribery, but Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is on the hunt.
“We’ve already started doing the research to see if there’s a legal basis to revoke the license,” Elorza said. “And if there is, believe me, we’ll be moving very aggressively towards that.”
So until Elorza catches this fish, we’re doing everything we can to bring these atrocities to light.
We even have some recommendations for the state’s new use of the location.
Businesses that would be be a better fit on 275 Thayer St:
- An aquarium co-op
- An erotic bakery
- A miniature Costco
- Sophomore housing
- A do-it-yourself taxidermy shoppe
- Indoor skydiving
- A pesticide factory
*Name has been changed to ensure the safety of our informant.