updated 6/22/2009 4:26:12 PM ET 2009-06-22T20:26:12

A watering hole in Spain is serving up free beer and tapas to recession-weary customers who insult its bartenders as a way to let off steam.

Casa Pocho in the beach resort town of Cullera near Valencia opened last week and says its promotional gimmick is working like a charm.

Polish-born co-owner Bernard Mariusz said the ribbing must be good-natured, not mean, and that the free booze and snacks go only to those who come up with truly original wisecracks.

"They can't call me S.O.B., but they can call me jerk, idiot, clown, that kind of thing," Mariusz told The Associated Press on Monday. "This works, because even people in their 70s come to insult me."

Mariusz said he and business partner Michal Lotocki, also from Poland, came up with the idea to help people relax during hard economic times.

Rather than argue about money at home with their spouses, he suggests they stop by and take it out on him.

One good zinger came from a woman who told Mariusz his ears were so big they reminded her of a car with its doors wide open.

Another: Mariusz is so ugly he should comb his hair not in a mirror but in a reflecting pool, so as not to break the looking glass.

"Nobody overdoes it. Nobody," he said in a telephone interview.

Barbs deemed as winners earn their creators a small glass of beer and a plate of finger food, which normally cost 1.50 euros ($2.10).

Newcomers tend to be shy, but eventually get into it, with the proprietor's help.

"I prod them a bit, say things like, 'Sir, where are you going with a face like that?'"

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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