Building Service Workers Award Honoree Robert Alonso: A Lobby To Call Home

Sharing jokes with tenants gets Downtown’s Doorman of the Year, Robert Alonso, through long days

| 17 Oct 2022 | 02:44

Doorman Robert Alonso has found a second home in the lobby of the luxury downtown apartment building where he works, complete with towering ceilings and a smooth stone reception desk where he’s stationed by a revolving glass door. The tenants? “They don’t even see me as a doorman,” Alonso said — they’re like family.

When Alonso first started as a doorman, in 2005 at a Midtown hotel, he worked an overnight shift lacking in casual chatter with those checking in and out of the building. “Most of the night, really, it was quiet,” he said.

Now, he’s manned the door at the 58-story Barclay Tower, steps from City Hall, for 15 years — and it’s an entirely different scene. “I get along with everybody,” he said. When he greets tenants, it’s “mostly jokes.”

The “best part of my job are the tenants; friendship, laughter and humor with them,” Alonso said.

He’s gotten to know not only those who live in the building, but also their guests and family members. Some pack up and move out only to ultimately return — and to find Alonso still ready at the door. “I welcome them with open arms,” he said. He talks with tenants about their families and their jobs, about movies and vacations. “I feel needed,” he said.

Most days are busy. “That revolving door is always on the move,” Alonso said. And so is he; “I’m standing nonstop,” he added. The days can also be long. Occasionally picking up double shifts means Alonso reports for duty in the early morning darkness — he wakes up around 3:30a.m. — and leaves for home in the dark of the evening. The roundtrip commute to and from Westchester, where Alonso lives with his wife and father, adds a few hours. “I live in that lobby,” he said.

Off the clock, Alonso’s just as dedicated to the things that bring him joy — like barbequing (specifically steaks and ribs). And it’s more than a fair-weather pastime. “All year round: summer, fall, winter,” he said. “It could be snowing — I’m barbequing.”

He’s a collector of baseball cards, since the 80’s, and “statues,” including Marvel and DC comic figures. “I have a man cave,” he said. “I have everything down there, it looks like a museum.”

Home is also where he turns for support — and for inspiration from his father, who worked as a park ranger in Florida and as a safety agent in New York high schools. “He taught me a lot, showed me a lot,” Alonso said, explaining that his father’s work ethic “rubbed off from him to me.”

His wife plays a big part, too. “She supports me 100 percent,” Alonso said, “and she pushes me to do more.”

“That revolving door is always on the move.” Robert Alonso, Downtown Doorman of the Year