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Windsor's John Max giving gifts to those who don't drink and drive

07/13/2015 12:42 EDT | Updated 07/13/2016 05:59 EDT
A sports bar is taking social media by storm for rewarding customers who leave their cars in its parking lot overnight after drinking in the Windsor, Ont., establishment.

Two weeks ago, John Max Sports & Wings started leaving thank you letters, gift certificates and other vouchers under the wipers of cars left behind by, presumably, patrons who had a drink or more and didn't drive home.

"I just want to thank you for leaving your car parked overnight. I'm not sure if you had consumed alcohol at John Max or not, but we wanted to thank you for not drinking and driving," the letter signed by owner John O'Kane reads.

A $20 gift card and voucher for two hours of free volleyball accompanies the letter.

"Please accept this as a thank you for being responsible," O'Kane writes. "Life is valuable, have a wonderful weekend."

O'Kane told CBC Windsor he wrote his first four letters July 3 when he arrived at work at 7 a.m. ET and found four cars in the lot.

"I had the time and I decided to write the letter and thank those guests. I just wanted to throw a thank you their way with a gift card and no strings attached," he said.

The idea is taking social media by storm.

Facebook user Scott Defoe of Windsor claims to be one of the first to receive the letter and gifts. He immediately posted it to his Facebook page.

"Nice move John Max and thank you!" he wrote.

The gesture landed on the front page of Reddit on the weekend, under a post titled "Best bar ever." It received more than 1,000 comments.

Later, an Alberta radio station praised the move.

"A drunk decision that is worthy of celebration ...," Grand Prairie's Rock 97.7 wrote in a Facebook post that received 1,173 likes.

An Ottawa rock station made a similar post.

"The feedback we're getting is very positive and I just can't believe how fast it's spreading. It's pretty touching," O'Kane told CBC Windsor.

John Max isn't the first Canadian bar to offer such a thank you.

Duffy's Pub in Kamloops, B.C., started doing the same in May.

O'Kane's wife came up with the idea after seeing a similar post on Pinterest.

Windsor Police Service Insp. Brendan Dodd approved of the idea, retweeting a tweet that called the letter "brilliant."

"I'd be happy to work with the Windsor police or anybody who wants to work with me in just doing a small part in not drinking and driving," O'Kane said.

He also has a message for those who attempt to take advantage of the idea.

"If it gets out of control or I feel it's being taken advantage of, I'll stop doing it. I did it because I felt it was the right thing to do," O'Kane said. "We're trying to right the best bar that we know how. We're not a location where we invite everyone to get as drunk as they can. We do the best we can to gage people's alcohol consumption and do it professionally."

MADD approves

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) commends O'Kane's efforts, calling it a win-win for everyone.

"It makes me happy to see there are people out there going above and beyond their duty, being socially responsible.  For me, as an organization, we commend him," said. "He's portraying a message of being safe and not driving impaired. 

"Are people going to look at it and say he is trying to encourage people come back and drink at his bar? At the end of the day, it's a business, right?

"At the same  time, he's promoting safety. It's definitely a good thing, for sure."

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