Bye Bye, Beefeater

All News KCBS Radio
December 06, 2019 - 6:42 pm
Tom Sweeney has been a beefeater at the Sir Francis Drake hotel for 43 years.

Jim Taylor/KCBS Radio

The hero of San Francisco hospitality is leaving his post. 

Tom Sweeney, otherwise known as the San Francisco Beefeater, has been greeting travelers at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel for 43 years. In January, he will retire. 

“I wouldn’t trade this job for anything,” Sweeney said. “I’m a greeter, a porter, a guide, a ringmaster, a constable, a valet and a concierge all in an 8- hour day.”

He came to fame in 1982, when he helped capture two robbers preying on hotel guests.

“I used to be a middle linebacker in football, so I dove and tackled two of them at once on Union Square,” Sweeney said. “I gave them a head-start.” 

Fellow beefeater Eddie Strickland has been wearing the outfit for 17 years. He said they call them beefeaters because the tower guards in Britain used to be paid in beef, and tested the monarch's food for poison. 

Sweeney felt he played an important role in how tourists enjoyed their trip to San Francisco. 

"I'm the first impression, the last impression," he said, "so it's really important for a hotel."