For ten years, on Friday nights, Ron Woods hung out at the entrance to the Manor.
Sometimes, the doorman Fernando tells me, he would even be helpful.
“Oh, nothing much, he would let patrons know they could not take drinks outside onto the public sidewalks, or smoke inside. But, you know, he would also hit on customers he found cute.”
Woods would just hang outside at the door observing the crowd, so much so a few customers thought he worked there.
Trouble is, now he does, too.
In the last few weeks, Woods has been telling the club’s employees, staff, general manager, and now even the owners that he wants a certain customer, a 19-year-old man, banned from the club.
“If you don’t remove him at once,” he texted the owner, Paul Hugo, “I will consider it my civic duty to go to the police and charge you with allowing underage drinking in the premises.”
The Manor has been open for over ten years and five hundred weekends. A spectacular venue, it has hosted presidential campaigns, charitable benefits, and Super Bowl parties. The nightclub has a premiere and stellar reputation for its presence, philanthropy, and professionalism in our community.
Woods first demanded that the club’s general manager fire Fernando, the doorman who has worked the front door for six years, for allowing the 19 year old into the club.
When he did not get his way with the doorman, Woods actually went in and shouted at one of the club’s female bartenders for serving the kid a soda. That’s off the chart.
“He was screaming at me,” she said. “ I did not even know who he was. He [Woods] scared me.”
Not getting his way, Woods began first calling, then texting one of the owner of the club, Paul Hugo. He repeatedly ordered them to ban the kid from the club, or he would make it his “civic duty” to go to the police and have them shut down.
Perceiving a potential threat to his staff and clientele, Hugo quietly went to the police department and requested their assistance in order to control this slightly odd behavior. That’s his civic duty.
In this day and age, if you see something, it is wise to say something. You don’t take chances with the safety of your staff or the public. You stand up and speak out.
Assistant Chief Gary Blocker assigned a detective to the case immediately, and the Wilton Manors Police Department ordered a ‘threat assessment’ be initiated, promptly serving Woods with a ‘No Trespass’ order, barring him from entering the Manor at 2345 Wilton Drive.
Immediately after being served with the No Trespassing order by law enforcement, Woods responded defiantly, sending Hugo another text message, reading: “You think a simple trespass order can stop me? ”
Woods then showed up outside the club, armed with a sign reading ‘Stop Underage Drinking,’ falsely implying the Manor might be doing something wrong. It is not.
The Manor responsibly employs a police detail, private security guards, professional doormen, security cameras, and skilled bartenders that conscientiously comply with all city and state alcohol beverage laws.
Ron Woods does not care about the truth. He just tries to build himself up while tearing someone else down. Sorry, dude. Not going to work this time.
For the past three weekends, Ron Woods has been standing outside of the Manor, on the public sidewalk, day and night, sadly holding up his misleading sign.
As long as Woods stands in the public right of way, on the sidewalk, his conduct is lawful, outside the scope of the ’No Trespass’ order issued by the police.
Folks, it may be lawful, but it is also whacko. Despite the fact that Paul Hugo has been my friend for years, this situation reminded me of the story we did about the nude bicyclist who paraded up and down Wilton Drive last Fall. It was a story, and I decided for myself to find out what was going on. I was not retained by the club to do so.
Alas, I have now discovered that what set Woods into this ‘civic activism’ and ‘community concern’ was not righteousness, but revenge. Turns out he is nothing more than an old man scorned. You might say I have caught him with his pants down.
You see, about two months ago, Ron Woods once dated a 19 year old patron of the club. But the young man rejected his overtures and advances, choosing to terminate further contact.
Woods would not leave things alone, though. Instead, he has retaliated by attempting to have the kid permanently banned from the Manor. So much for his public concerns about underage drinking.
I interviewed the young man Woods went after last weekend. He told me the whole story. He admits now that he made the mistake of going out on a date with Woods.
“He was looking for more than I was,” the young man told me.
“Ron really came on to me, told me I was ‘different,’ ‘special,’ so ‘unlike other young men he had ever met,” the lad explained.
There you go. There is your warning sign for a first encounter- when someone you meet at ten o’clock tells you they love you by eleven.
“It was eerie,” the young man told me. “I did not have any special connection with him, but he seemed to think he had one with me. I told him I was not even thinking about sex, or a relationship, but from the moment I said that, I have been paying a price. I just want the guy to leave me alone.”
It was immediately after this rejection that Woods summarily began injecting himself into the business affairs of the Manor, and harassing its staff.
Woods has also threatened the club’s ownership by texts to do his bidding or he will go to multiple government agencies and complain about them.
But you know what, Mr. Woods? After those agencies read this column, you are the one they are going to be investigating.
Ron Woods foolishly thinks he can dictate to the owners who can get in or out of the club. No Ron, you can’t!
So what do you do if you are a nightclub owner stalked by a lonely guy with a big grudge?
Legally, if someone interferes with your business, trespasses on your property, or harasses and obstructs patrons lawfully trying to come and go, you can always go to court and sue. It is an option on the table here as well.
For right now, though, the Manor has come up with some creative counter programming of its own. You see, wherever Ron can lawfully protest, so too can other members of the public. Free speech is a two way street.
An employee of the Manor now stands adjacent to Ron Woods on the public sidewalk. He holds a sign of his own, reading ‘Beware of Creepy Old Men Carrying Signs.’
If Woods thinks he can just abuse a reputable night club and disrupt their business by telling lies about them, they can just do their civic duty and tell the public the truth about him.
Woods threatened to go the press too. Surprise. We have come to him. Like citizens, the press has a duty, too. We say something if we see something.
Too many bad things have happened to good people these days. Isolated loners doing weird shit can’t be ignored.
The freedom of speech and assembly built into the first amendment is a wonderful thing, Mr. Woods. It gives you the right to stand out there on that public sidewalk all night if you want.
Unfortunately for you, there is also a clause in that amendment about a free press. It gives me the right to tell the world just what a shmuck I think you are. So don’t let the door hit you on the way out. You will never step into that club again.
You are no civic minded protestor. No sir. You are just a creepy old man standing in the street holding up a deceitful, misleading sign. Everyone else is inside the club having a good time, scoffing at you.
And no, I am not the bully here. I am reporting on the person who would have been one, but for a free press.