Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Trinity bartender fired for laughing

Darra Kollios says she lost her job at Trinity Grill for laughing too much and too loudly.


Darra Kollios says she lost her job at Trinity Grill for laughing too much and too loudly.

TRINITY — It was Saturday night, and bar manager Darra Kollios was bantering good naturedly with a customer at the Trinity Grill.

"I can't remember what we were laughing at," she said. "I think we were talking about the horse race."

All of a sudden, owner Dohaeng Heo walked up and told her to quit laughing. Minutes later, Kollios found herself without a job.

Everyone agrees on that much but little else. And no one's laughing anymore.

"I was just blown away," said Kollios, who owns an online decorative pottery business but has spent years working as a bartender to supplement her income. For the past couple of months, she has worked nights at the Trinity Grill, which has an open kitchen and plays soft rock over the radio.

Here's her version of what happened that night:

Kollios was talking with the customer when Heo walked up.

"He said 'You cannot laugh. If you laugh again you will have to leave.' "

When she asked what the problem was, he called his restaurant "a quiet place" and said she could finish her shift and go home.

"Are you firing me?"


"Are you firing me?"

"Yes," he said.

Kollios packed up her things. The customer, whose first name was Jeff but whose last name she didn't get, helped her carry them out to the car.

Here's what Heo said happened:

Since she started working there, Kollios laughed loudly and often. She also sometimes sang to herself.

"I can't mimic it," he said of Kollios' laugh, which she describes as "more of a giggle."

He feared the noise would disturb customers, 85 percent of whom are older than 60. He said there is no ban on laughter, and he understands the higher noise level from the occasional birthday party. But he prefers a calm atmosphere.

"This is not a sports bar," he said.

On Saturday, no one complained, but Heo worried about the noise level. He asked Kollios to stop laughing and told her if she couldn't she would have to go home. Her response was "Oh, are you firing me?"

Then, she gathered up "all her private stuff" and left.

"She could still work if she wanted to stay silent," he said. Heo also said Kollios reacted angrily when he cut her hours recently because business had slowed.

"She said, 'If you try to fire me, you'll be sorry,' " he said.

Kollios called that assertion "a flat out lie."

Three days later, Kollios asked Heo for a letter documenting her status.

He obliged.

"WHENEVER YOU HAD WORKED IN THE RESTAURANT, YOU MADE NOISE WITH LAUGHING LOUDLY," the letter said. It said her position had been terminated but later said she had quit.

Kollios, a divorced mom of a 7-year-old girl, said she wouldn't have quit because she needs the money. She'll search for another job but isn't optimistic as summer is slow and the economy stinks.

"I'm going to be back to struggling again," said Kollios, who refuses to give her age for fear of discrimination. "If you know anybody who wants a laughing bartender, let me know."

Lisa Buie can be reached at or (813) 909-4604.

Trinity bartender fired for laughing 06/11/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 19, 2008 6:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  2. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  3. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  4. South Korea military: North Korea fires unidentified projectile


    SEOUL — North Korea launched a ballistic missile early today that flew 280 miles and landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone, the South Korean military and the Japanese government said.

    S. Korean President Moon Jae-in is assessing the launch.
  5. Rays blow lead, rally, blow lead, rally again to beat Twins in 15 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays sure made it interesting Sunday, taking an early lead, watching their beleaguered bullpen blow it, rallying to tie in the ninth, battling the Twins to take a lead in the 14th then giving it up again.

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 28: Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates scoring a run against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on May 28, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) 700010990