Local bars, eateries hope ban won’t snuff out business
Bar and restaurant owners around the valley think the new smoking ban will drive some customers away. On the other hand, it may bring some others in.But everyone agrees they’re not sure what to expect on Saturday when the new statewide smoking ban goes into effect.”I’m probably going to lose a bunch, but I might gain some, too,” said Butch Lontine, owner of Butch’s Smokehouse and Sports Bar off Highway 6 in West Glenwood, where smoking has been allowed in the bar area. “I just don’t know.”Lontine says he’s heard a lot of complaints from his smoking customers.
“The biggest complaint I hear is ‘Welcome to America – land of the free,'” Lontine said. “The other thing they ask is why do (the non-smokers) come here?”The ban will prohibit smoking in most public places, including bars and restaurants. Smoking will still be allowed at least 15 feet away from the entrance of a business or in an outdoor patio area.”We’ll put up big stand-up ashtrays,” Lontine said. “They’ll have to go outside, but (the ban) is not going to stop the smokers.”Lindsey Weber is a part-time bartender at the Springs Downtown Bar & Grill and Doc Hollidays Saloon, both on Grand Avenue in Glenwood Springs, and says her customers are saying they will just stay home.”We don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’ve heard quite a few people say they’ll do they’re drinking at home,” Weber said. “In my opinion, (the ban) is a good thing. I smoke, too, but it will allow me not to be in a cloud of smoke all the time.”
Ryan May, owner of the Canyon Club bar on Main Street in New Castle, says he’s not happy about it.May is thinking of offering an outdoor “beer garden” area in the back of his building where people can smoke.”I’ll wait and see what the customers say,” May said. “What choice do we have? But to sum it up, I think it’s just a bunch of s—.”Jeff Day, owner of the Sports Corner Saloon at Third Street and Railroad Avenue in Rifle, said the ban may keep some of his customers away, but may bring in others that wouldn’t come in before.”I don’t smoke, so for me, personally, it’s a nice point,” Day said. “I think initially it will have a negative impact, but I think the long-term will be fine. It could actually bring non-smokers to the bar.”
The bottom line, Day said, is that his customers don’t come out to smoke – they come out to socialize.Lontine also thinks that people will eventually get used to the change – just like they did with changes in the highway speed limits.”You also have to give a little bit of credence to the people who don’t smoke,” he said. “They have their rights, too.”An injunction was filed in Denver federal district court two weeks ago by the Coalition for Equal Rights, which included 500 bar and tavern owners around the state, for a temporary restraining order to prevent the new statute from going into effect on July 1.A federal court judge denied the claim on June 23.
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