If you’ve attended a Bisons game at Coca-Cola Field, you’ve probably witnessed the antics that occur in the “Cone Zone.” The beer vendor with the pointed head sometimes seems to command as much attention as the players on the field.
Tom “Conehead” Girot has been hawking beer for 42 seasons. He’s also a vendor at Ralph Wilson Stadium and previously worked at Memorial Auditorium and the “Rockpile.”
Girot owns and manages properties for a living. But most people don’t know him as a landlord. They know him as one of the more recognizable ballpark beer vendors. Girot talked with The Buffalo News’ Brian Meyer about his experiences. Here is a summary of an interview that is part of the weekly “In Focus” series. Watch the full five-minute interview above.
Meyer: Talk about the changes you’ve seen. Have there been noticeable changes in ballpark behavior, buying habits, etc.?
Girot: The biggest change in my career is people’s acceptance of their responsibility of handling alcohol. Not only the consumers themselves, but especially the companies I work for ... We make a good living selling alcohol. But with that comes a real responsibility to serve it correctly.
Meyer: You have been keeping track of volume. How many beers do you think you’ve sold?
Girot: I’m right at about 1.8 million.
Meyer: That’s a lot of beer.
Girot: A lot of beer and a lot of years. A lot of years, a lot of beers.
Meyer: Let’s talk about some of the zany characters that we see at the ballpark. We’ve had the Earl of Bud. We’ve had the Butcher. We have Conehead. How important is this kind of shtick?
Girot: It’s my job to service the public, true. But if I can give them just a little bit extra – make it a little bit more memorable for them – then I’ve accomplished something. You know, I’ve made somebody’s evening just a little bit more enjoyable. And that’s important. It’s important to the organization. It’s important to me. And it’s especially important to the fan.
Meyer: I assume the Conehead inspiration came from “Saturday Night Live.” But a lot of folks are way too young to remember that.
Girot: I hate to hear that! It is inspired by the program. I got married in 1977. That Halloween, my wife – she’s a hairdresser, – people at the hair shop all got coneheads. They wound up on Eyewitness News at the time ... Being football season, I said, “Boy, I got to try that at the football game.” And I came up with the guarantee. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Meyer: Let’s hear that guarantee.
Girot: When you buy from me, you get the Conehead guarantee: get a warm beer from me, you drink it for free!
Meyer: How many times have you had to honor that?
Girot: You get burnt. It’s America. People are looking for something free. I would say in my career, probably a hundred times.