After 43 years, one of Union Square’s most recognizable characters is hanging up his Beefeater uniform.
Legendary Sir Francis Drake hotel doorman Tom Sweeney worked his last shift Sunday afternoon before officially retiring.
Sweeney said that when he took the job in 1976, it was supposed to just be a summer gig. He had intended to become a police officer or a firefighter.
But the summer stretched on, turning into a 43-year career that allowed him to rub elbows with heads of state, movie stars and countless hotel guests and tourists.
He described the job as more than just a doorman. It’s part greeter, porter, street guide, concierge and constable.
It’s that last role that landed him his most memorable moment in his long, storied career.
“I got an award with Joe Montana and Dwight Clark, I tackled two robbers in ’81,” Sweeney said. “And I got a call from Mayor Feinstein, she wanted to award a quarterback, receiver and a tackle. So that was probably my biggest day in San Francisco, getting an award.”
“They had just gotten back from the Super Bowl,” Sweeney continued. “And Joe and I were great friends ever since.”
Over the years he’s seen his job change. When wheels were added to luggage he lost out on tips because guests preferred to carry their own bags to their rooms. And when Uber was invented, he didn’t need to hail many cabs anymore.
Sweeney also had a knack for remembering names – he knows the names of nearly everyone who works in the businesses on his block.