An Arthur Avenue staple, Suits stands as the manager and head bouncer of Mugzs bar, a popular Fordham nightlife hot spot where booze and beats flow freely. Before beginning our interview, Suits informed me of the multiple interviews he’s done in the past, further starting our conversation about his celebrity status at Fordham. If you don’t know who Suits is, than you probably don’t go to Fordham. What you may not know, though, is that there is so much more to Suits than his free hugs and charismatic nature.
Daley: Okay, first I wanna get your real name.
Suits: Daniel Morse. You want my middle name? [laughs]
D: [laughs] And can I ask how old you are?
D: What’s your favorite part about working at Mugzs?
S: My favorite part is, like, “what am I gonna see today? What kind of excitement am I gonna see.” I see it all! It’s like a movie. There’s drama between boyfriend and girlfriend, hookups, fights, arguments, people always asking me a million questions. So I get excited about it because it’s never the same, so that’s always cool. It always changes up.
D: Okay, and what’s your least favorite part about working here?
S: [laughs] The work itself! Everybody relies on me. If something doesn’t get done, I have to do it cause otherwise I have to answer to the boss.
D: Right, so when you’re here…when you’re bouncing…is it called bouncing?
S: Well yeah, it is bouncing, but I’m also the manager so I actually do more than what people realize. I actually work during the day and the night so I have to set up, make sure we got everything. Tomorrow I’m going to be doing a lot of that. Always Tuesdays and Thursdays and Fridays I’m always running around.
D: Okay, so those are the busiest nights?
S: Yeah, yeah.
D: What about Saturdays?
S: Well Saturdays I get up early and make sure everything is all set up. Sometimes I’ll get people from the football games. The last weekend we do a drink up early in the afternoon. That’s the hard part. Homecoming is the hard part for me because I just want to stop and wish everybody, you know, how they’re doing and what they’re doing in life, but I actually don’t have time. It’s all day long, from nine in the morning till four in the morning. 4:30 a.m. is sometimes when I get outta here!
D: I wanted to know if you live around here?
S: Yeah, I live on 189th, right across the street. Directly from the bar [laughs].
D: Nice! Okay and where are you from and where have you previously worked?
S: Okay, I was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut, and lived in Hamden. I had various jobs. One reason I came to New York was to, you know, become an actor. And I had done some stuff, but then got left with the bar. I guess working here is like acting. Because I’m a celebrity so…
D: [laughs] That is so true! So why is Mugzs the best bar on Arthur?
S: Cause I’m here! When you got a guy like me 15 years, I just like to show that I can do it. You know what I’m saying? Believe it or not, it actually started from a bet. The original owner, Bob Zamboli, called Mugzs…which I’m revealing cause everyone’s always like, “Why is there a ‘z’ at the end?” It’s because there is supposed to be a Mug and then a “z” was the owner’s name. His daughters went to Fordham, that’s why he stopped working. When they graduated, he stopped owning the place. So the bet with him, though, was, “Bob, do you think I could run a bar like this?” I was only, 23 or 24, and he goes, “No!” Then, two years ago he came in and I go, “Bob, do you think I can run a bar like this now?” And he goes, “Yes, cause I hear a lot of good stories about how you run this place!” So, when someone says I can’t do something I kind of challenge them. So that’s why I’ve been here a long time.
D: That’s actually one of my questions. How long you’ve been here.
S:15 years, yeah.
D: Wow! How do you feel about the competition around Arthur? Like what does Mugzs have on others?
S: Everybody else around me believes there’s competition. To me, it’s not competition. Look at the size of Mugzs. We can’t fit everybody from Fordham in here. And neither can they. I told people, I even told the owners, “There should never be a competition.” When I first started here, believe it or not, there were only probably 3,000 students all together at Fordham. It was small back then, and there was more bars. There were seven or eight bars. Now there’s only three that I know of. Mugzs, Tinkers and Howl. So now, I don’t think we can afford to be competition. You know, because the size of our bars. And a lot of kids go to the city because they know they can’t fit in. The population just grew and grew every year.
D: Right, so what were the other bars? Cause I know Ziggys got shut down.
S: Yeah, Ziggys got shut down. When I first started here there was a bar called Clarks on Webster and Fordham Road. Then there was Gormans which was next to Tinkers. Then there was University right by the park, right by the funeral home. There was actually a real college bar. There was Rams Lounge on 188th and 189th, over there. It was Albanian run but it was pretty cool, I heard. Upper Deck. And Alumni Hall, which was Candy Lounge now. But Alumni Hall was where everybody left the bars at about three o’clock in the morning, went over there, danced for an hour, and, I ain’t gonna lie, you can meet all your friends and hookup or whatever. I’ve seen a lot of it over the years. [laughs]
D: [laughs] Yeah, yeah. Wait, so what happened to all them?
S: Um, I gotta say I believe a lot of bars don’t do what we do. We have a strictly Fordham bar. Howl is a restaurant so they allow other people in there. When you mix college students and locals and other people, it’s like water and oil. They never mix together. That’s why Mugzs differs from other bars, because we keep it strictly Fordham. Other bars didn’t do that, and that brought trouble. Ziggys, they brought too many young kids in there and it got shut down. Same thing with Alumni Hall. Too many fights because they were letting other people in, you know?
D: Yeah, what about people from other schools? Do you let them in?
S: Yeah, the other day I did let a group of Marymount kids in. They were very nice. As long as I see that they are cool and they’re not going to cause trouble, maybe, depending on the room. But most of the time, um, no. Unless they come with a Fordham student, I allow it, but I always give them a warning to not mess around because they’ll get kicked out. I also hold respect for the upper classmen. If you’re an upper classman or if you know me really well, they’re no gonna pay the cover. Others that I don’t know unfortunately have to pay the cover. But I never charge seniors or juniors cover. And I think that’s what attracts students to Mugzs, because unlike other bars they probably have to collect to maintain their place. But we always treat you people like family. That’s what attracts Mugzs actually more than the drink ups and everything else.
D: Yeah. Okay, what has been your favorite night ever being a bouncer at Mugzs? Is there any night that really stood out that you had so much fun, like, bouncing?
S: I guess Friday nights before homecoming, because they always come out and it’s more, I guess a lot of the younger students are relaxed more because they know that the next day they’re going to party all day. So a lot of the younger students don’t come out, but the grad students come out because they stay overnight. I don’t know why, I guess it’s more exciting. And plus PAT! Parent Appreciation Dinner. That night is really fun. Everybody sprays bottles of champagne.
D: Do parents come here?
S: Yeah, they bring their siblings!
D: Stop! Okay that’s awesome. I did not know that. Um, okay, what has been the worst night that you’ve ever experienced that you can remember?
S: Like I said, homecoming is always, or, spring weekend because we have to deal with so much stuff. We have to make sure everybody is doing the right thing, the cops are out breaking our chops, so I just don’t look forward for the homecomings. The homecoming day is okay, but at night it’s just like, “Wow, I have this many hours before I go home.” And then Spring Weekend I just don’t look forward to it at all cause cops become really tough that day. Cause you guys think…I understand why kids go out of control that day, it’s Spring Weekend! Enjoy it, but don’t go hurt yourselves.
D: Right, totally. And what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen here? Like THE craziest thing.
S: Hmm, wow, that’s bringin’ me back. Okay, Class of ‘05, or Class of ’04. Was it ‘05 or ’04? Class of ’04, a group of kids went and got matching piercings and they brought in a table. I mean they brought in a pool. A kiddie pool. They started filling it with water and asked me for help with water. They put the table in the middle and sat there swimming around in it.
D: No! [laughs]
S: And that’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen!
D: Wait, what?
S: Yeah, it was just really awesome.
D: Was that during they day?
S: Yeah, they put signs up, “No swimming in the pool.” They were just putting crazy signs up. Another one was, “No lifeguard on duty.”
D: [laughs] Were they seniors?
S: Yeah. It was Spring Weekend actually. Yeah, I think it was like ’04 or, I don’t remember. It’s amazing when you’re here for so long, there’s so many stories. But that one always stands out. Um, the craziest thing I’ve ever seen was the *riot of ’04, that actually stood out more.
*Author’s Note: The “riot of ’04” has been confirmed and written about here!
D: Okay, what was that? I don’t even know.
S: In ’04 of Spring Weekend…this is what I mean about Spring Weekend, you always gotta be careful. These kids were dancing around in front of the bodega, with drinks in their hands. Cops came over to write summons or tell them to disperse. Somebody from afar threw a bottle, hit one of the cops, and she called all the military, the S.W.A.T., everything! It was like…there were troops with shield guards and batons. I swear.
S: It looked like Roman soldiers marching.
D: That’s…really weird.
S: Yeah, no. I thought this was a dream. It was the craziest thing that I’ve ever seen. I know it was Spring Weekend because we had bags and bags of bagels and cream cheese that my boss put together. While this riot is going on, we locked the door and the cops bang down the door and says, “Let everybody out.” I said, “If I do that, you’re just causing more trouble.” They said, “Let everybody out.” So I let everybody out and the bar dispersed and they started arresting people left and right. So that’s why it turned into a bigger riot. And then my boss, she goes, “Just go out there and give people bagels. Get rid of these things.” I’m like, “You want me to go out there?” She goes, “Yeah, just go out there.” So the next thing I know, they’re using them as weapons. They’re throwing them at the cops.
S: So a lot of kids got in trouble at Fordham. There was a lot of speculation, like the cops were picking on the bigger guys. Not to pin point anything, but it was just crazy. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. That is one of the craziest things I’ve ever actually seen. There was helicopters, tanks…
S: I’m talking like that the S.W.A.T. battle tanks, where they use the water guns. Yeah, they brought one of them out.
D: That’s crazy. Um, okay, my next question is that I heard you dated a Fordham student once upon a time. Is this true?
S: I dated a few Fordham students, yeah.
D: A few!
S: Yeah, it’s true.
D: Okay, like recently or a while ago?
S: No, a while ago. It’s been a while since I dated anybody. Why! [laughs] Who told you this?
D: [laughs] I just heard from…around….
S: Well, one of them was Christine, my girlfriend. She’s still a close friend to me and she’s a doctor now, down at Lennox Hill Hospital in the city.
D: Wait, is she your girlfriend now?
S: No, we broke up a long time ago. When she graduated we broke up. But her sister was here Saturday, so we’re still good friends.
D: Okay, cool. I also heard that you’ve worked at other bars around Arthur Avenue. Is that true?
S: I actually originally worked at Howl first.
D: Oh, really?
S: Yeah, so I was only there for like less than a year. Yeah, I just worked there part-time. How I got the job at Mugzs is a funny story. I was coming back from the city and I was seein’ a big crowd going on and I saw that the owner was having a hard time and I go, “Bobby, what’s the matter?” And he goes, “I need your help. Derek Jeter, who just came from the New York Yankees, is here and he’s bringing in a lot of people. Can you help me?” I’m like, “Sure!” So I worked outside the back door and all the kids are like, “C’mon, let us in! Derek Jeter is in there.” I was like, “I can’t. I can’t let you in.” So that got me the job. I started workin’ here. The deal was that if you buy the bar, you get Suits. So the next owner kept me on, and the next owner, and the next owner. I’ve been through four different owners.
D: Wow! Okay, interesting. Derek Jeter was here?
S: Yeah, his rookie year! He hooked up with a Fordham girl.
D: [laughs] Um, have you liked all the owners?
S: Um…yes and no. This family I like. I’m pretty tough with them. Been through thick and thin for ten years already. There was one owner, he just worked for a short time and I didn’t get along with him but I was ready to leave. Pretty tight with him but then he sold it, so I came back to work.
D: Okay, my next question is kind of random. Do you have any siblings and do they live around here?
S: All my family is actually in Connecticut. I have a brother and sister who both go to Central Connecticut College. But my family all lives in Connecticut, and they’ve been here at the bar. They hang out. My sister especially.
D: Okay, how did the name Suits come about?
S: That’s a funny question. Like I said, I do acting in New York so, when I got some suits the owner of Rigaletto, was getting rid of, I was his size. I wore them to get interviews, because it helps when you look really nice. And then I came back and there was a brawl going on in front of Mugzs and I helped them stop it and they called me Suits.
D: Do you still act?
S: Um, yeah. I’m actually putting together a project for some contest so I’m going to be doing narrating.
D: In the Bronx?
S: Yeah here in the neighborhood. The last thing I did was “Mama’s Boys.”
D: Okay, and that was here?
S: Yeah, well that was for the neighborhood. The owner’s brother, the main character, was like a Jersey Shore kinda style.
D: Okay cool. Have you seen a difference in Fordham students in the last, I don’t know, five to ten years?
S: Yeah, I have. Um, it’s a touchy subject but I understand that more and more parents are cutting their kids off because I’ve seen a lot of, like, poor kids…like kids that are going through financial problems. I hear Fordham raised their rates up to $60,000, so yeah, I see a drop in tipping wise and spending wise. I don’t blame kids. They’re trying to do the best to survive, but I see a lot of dipping…like years ago, in 2003, is one of my best classes because they would come in, they would spend and just sit in here from 9p.m. till 4a.m. and were constantly spending. They were not worried. We never did credit cards. It’s always been cash, and I guess we’ve never had a problem with it. I believe this is all due to the economy. I understand parents are probably tight now. Whatever it is I know they’re not spending much money.
S: More aggressive in drinking. Yeah but at the same time, like I said, they’re struggling financially so, yeah.
D: Earlier you talked about fights that have been happening…
S: Well, no. I mean Mugzs has been pretty good lately. They haven’t had a bad fight in a while so it’s really been good. I’m just talking about the fights meaning between boyfriend girlfriend, arguments, the drama. Yeah I look for that because I actually make fun of it. And if I’m in the mood, if I’m in a good mood, when I catch people making out I’ll throw water on them
D: [laughs] Oh my god! Okay, so I’ve already asked you how long you’ve worked here. I was going to ask you if you want to be a bouncer forever or was there another profession, and you said acting. Are you married?
D: Okay and also, if you don’t want to answer this question, it’s totally fine, but are you willing to share about how you got the scar on your face?
S: Touchy subject. No. Sorry, that’s the only question I won’t answer.
D: No, no. Totally cool. Oh, and then I was just going to ask you about the fights that you’ve gotten into. Have you gotten into any fights?
S: Recently, or…?
D: Like as a bouncer? You know, aggressive students…
S: Yeah, it happens. Um, sometimes locals get involved and I have to protect the students. So yeah, I get in fights sometimes. It happens. It’s part of the job. I take my licks.
D: Right. So y’all don’t have locals here right? I feel like I’ve never seen locals here.
S: No, not too many. If I don’t know them…I’ve been really strict this year, being that it’s only September.
D: All of the bartenders are students, right?
S: Yeah, except for one girl, Bianca. She lives with the owner. But the owner rents out a room to her, so she comes here to work for extra money.
D: Okay Suits, well that’s it! Thank so much, that was great.
S: No problem! Any time.