The awesome thing about the position of greeter — those friendly people who check your ID when you walk through the door — is that it’s a perfect fit for people with a number of different backgrounds.
We’ve had teachers looking to make an extra buck over the summer — when they guide tours, they know how to educate a crowd.
We’ve had college students — they know how to cram their brains with a bunch of information.
And we’ve had retired law enforcement — don’t even think of sneaking a fake ID past them.
Our most recent greeter, Kevin Cassidy, is one of the latter.
“Kevin reached out to me looking for something to keep him busy with his semi-retirement,” says Tasting Room General Manager Chris Costello. “With his background in law enforcement, our greeter position was the perfect fit — no bad IDs will be getting in this summer! Kevin’s naturally outgoing personality and garrulous nature were just the icing on the cake.”
Originally from Northeast Philly, Kevin graduated from West Chester College — it wasn’t quite a university when he was there — with a degree in Business Management. He’s been coming to Cape May County for over forty years, moving down here permanently in June.
“My parents bought a place in the Villas in 1971 for $4700,” he says, amazed. “A small, three-bedroom bungalow. You know, tiny, little place. My dad was a Philadelphia cop, and everybody’s dream in the city was to have a place at the shore.”
So, Kevin spent all of his formative summers down here.
“I know the Villas pretty well.”
Following in his father’s footsteps, Kevin was a cop in New Castle County, Delaware, for over 26 years, working on the Fatal Accident Team for seven years.
“I had to go to school for all of this training,” he explains. “If someone laid down skid marks, I’d have to do a coefficient of friction on the road surface and see what kind of tires they had, I’d have to weigh the car. I’d come up with an equation that put somewhere in the ballpark, I could come up with a speed. If that speed was 20 over the speed limit, you know they’re the ones at fault. Doing that was very interesting.”
He left the police department in 2008 for HSBC bank, joining their anti-money laundering department.
“I was looking at people’s bank accounts to make sure they weren’t depositing or withdrawing certain amounts of cash and wiring them places they weren’t supposed to go,” he explains. “It was very interesting. You can’t fathom the amount of money that changes hands within a day.”
Kevin says that he was dumbfounded by the amount of money that he saw go through the bank at any given time.
“And not just dollars,” he says, “but usually it involves yen for dollars or marks for dollars, but everybody wants US dollars. The amount of money that changes hands is staggering.”
When he wasn’t playing nemesis to Jason Bateman’s character in Ozark, he had the chance to travel extensively with his two ice hockey-playing sons, Neil and Connor.
“We went to Lake Placid, and we played hockey on the rink where the US won the gold medal in 1980,” he says. “Both boys played on that rink, they both scored a goal in the game, and they both got the MVP for the game. That was pretty cool.”
The boys got their start on rinks at the University of Delaware, where they have an arena and a practice area, with the sport eventually taking them to the Poconos, Lancaster, Reading, Pittsburgh, and many other places throughout the Northeast.
Each year, the league would have tournaments, being held for three years at Lake Placid.
“We went to the top of the ski jump,” Kevin recalls. “We got to stand right where they would start their descent, and you’re thinking, ‘My God, why would anyone do that?!?’”
He points to ice hockey as his favorite sport but admits to following all of the Philadelphia teams.
“Ice hockey is the number one,” he says. “I don’t care if it’s high school, college. I coached my boys for years. Any hockey. But I’m a Philly fan through-and-through. I don’t root for anyone other than the Flyers, the Phillies, the Eagles. I don’t root for anyone else. I grew up there. It’s all I knew.”
He enjoys classic rock, as well — real classic rock. Not what some of the youngins working in the Tasting Room may call classic rock.
“The Who, Deep Purple, the Stones,” he says. “Grand Funk Railroad is my favorite. I saw them last year in Atlantic City.”
However, his true love is restoring vintage and classic cars.
“I’m a car guy,” he says. “My thing is cars.”
Kevin has a 1958 Corvette and a ‘69 Oldsmobile flat-top station wagon in his garage.
“The Corvette was complete and utter junk,” he says, “and I redid everything. And, have you ever seen That 70s Show? You know the station wagon in the garage? That one has glass on the roof, but mine is the model under it. That’s what I wanted because I want to put my surfboard on the roof.”
Kevin’s boys started surfing, and he went along with it.
“About eight or nine summers now,” he says, “I go over to The Cove.”
(…and every surfer on staff reads this and says, shhhhh!!!!)
Regardless of whether at the Cove or on Washington Street Mall, Kevin loves Cape May.
“Always have,” he says. “When we first got here, we started going to Second Ave, but, when the boys started surfing, we drifted about 150 yards to the Cove. That’s where I plant myself. I rent myself a box there. I go to the Cove all the time.”
He loves taking his parents to the Washington Street Mall and visiting all of the restaurants.
“It’s just a great tourist place, no doubt about it,” he says. “I love it.”
While he moved down here permanently in June, Kevin remembers coming through the airport for years: he’s glad to see that the old cloth factory across the street from the Tasting Room is finally gone. Yet, he’s watched the airport slowly grow in activity.
Kevin gets together in Philadelphia with some longtime friends each year over Thanksgiving weekend — guys with whom he went to either grade school or high school. They get together at one of the same bars they’d frequented back in the day, somewhere near Cottman Ave.
Now, Cottman Ave. means a lot to Philly sports fans — that’s where we go to celebrate after big wins. But, faithful readers of Straight to the Pint may recall that Tasting Room General Manager Chris Costello grew up near there. In fact, his father is one of the guys that Kevin sees every Thanksgiving weekend.
“Chris grew up about five streets over from where I grew up,” he says. “Chris’s father, Bert, didn’t grow up there — he grew up in a different parish — but when he got married, he bought the house.”
While they didn’t specifically grow up together, they’ve known each other forever.
“On Thanksgiving morning, I’d go over to Chris’s father’s house and we’d walk down to Lincoln High and watch Father Judge play Lincoln in the Turkey Bowl,” he recalls. “You know how you play your rival on Thanksgiving? I went to Father Judge, and we’d play Lincoln.”
Kevin knew that Chris was working here, and offered him a job as a greeter at the brewery.
In fact, as a former member of the police force, that’s exactly who we want checking IDs — Kevin can spot a fake one from a mile away.
“But earlier today, I stopped Chris and said, ‘This job is great, I love this!’”
He really enjoys is checking people’s IDs and seeing where they’re coming from.
“I talk to everyone!” he says. “I get to meet all these people!
“Two weeks ago, a girl — I don’t remember her — but she grew up on the same street as my grandmother in southwest Philadelphia. She said, ‘Your grandmother was Mrs. Cassidy?!?’ I said, ‘Yeah!’ She said, ‘Man, she caused a big stir on Halloween. She used to give out full-sized candy bars. Everybody went to your grandmother!’ I’ve met other guys from Father Judge — I didn’t remember them. You say one or two things, and you make a friend you never knew you had.”
And he’s really enjoying the access he has to The Bog and Cape May Lager.
“They’re my favorites,” he says. “You know what’s a good combination? The Bog and Crushin’ It. I tell people all the time, you can sit in the sun all day at the beach and drink The Bog and be able to get up out of your beach chair at the end of the day because it’s low in alcohol, but, if it’s cold, it’s very refreshing. Even people who come in and say, ‘Oh, I don’t drink beer,’ I say, ‘Just wait here,’ and I go and get them a little sample, and they say, ‘Oh, that’s good!’ and I say, ‘That’s beer!’”
He also likes our Barrel-Aged Concrete Ship.
“But I can only drink four ounces of that one!”
Ultimately, Kevin really enjoys working in the Tasting Room.
“You know the best thing about it?” he asks. “You know, the people that I work with are just as nice as can be. Very welcoming. They didn’t know me from Adam, and, even though I’m thirty-or-so years older than most of them, that doesn’t seem to affect them at all.”
Be sure to say hello to Kevin the next time you see him in the Tasting Room!