Union Bar and Grill letter

The Union Bar and Grill in Gering, Nebraska, puts this letter on the windshields of cars that customers leave parked at the tavern overnight after having a few. It's good for a free burger and fries.

OMAHA, Neb. — One Nebraska bar has found a creative way to thank patrons who don’t get behind the wheel after drinking.

The Union Bar and Grill in Gering puts a letter on the windshields of cars that customers leave parked at the tavern overnight after having a few drinks. It’s good for a free burger and fries.

The bar has been using the letter for a couple of years, but it gained attention on social media this spring and went viral.

A woman whose husband got the letter put it on Facebook last month, and the post has received 24,000 likes and has been shared more than 53,000 times. The woman, Janelle Martin, said she posted it because she thinks it’s a good example of a bar trying to keep people safe.

Scott Swanson, who owns the bar with his wife, Carla, said that following Martin’s post he’s received Facebook messages from people across the country thanking him. Most of the messages, he said, have been from people who said they lost a loved one to a drunken driver.

“It’s a $7 burger, and if it keeps someone out of jail or keeps someone from killing someone, it’s damn well worth it,” he said.

Swanson said his wife brought up the idea about two years ago after spotting an item online about a bar making a similar proposition to customers.

He leaves the letters on windshields on weekend mornings, which is when there are usually eight to 10 cars parked outside belonging to customers who visited the bar the night before. He said he doesn’t leave the letters every weekend.

He said he hopes that other bars will borrow the idea.

The letter says: “Dear Union Bar and Grill Park Guest, Just wanted to thank you for leaving your car parked overnight. I’m not sure if you consumed alcohol at our restaurant or not, but we want to thank you for not drinking and driving. Bring this letter to the bar and we will give you a hamburger and French fries. Please accept this as a thank you for being responsible. Life is valuable, have a great day.”

Asked how many patrons take the bar up on free food offer, Swanson said: “100 percent.”

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oconnor@owh.com, 402-444-1122

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