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Club Owners 

Don't beat our butts

We asked various Charlotte restaurateurs and club owners what they think of the proposed smoking ban in Charlotte restaurants and clubs. Following are some of their comments.

Penny Craver from Dish and Amos':

"My mother's family raised tobacco for many years. They were farmers and I am proud of farming, especially tobacco farming, because it is such hard work. Both my business partners are from Winston-Salem, and that is a town supported by tobacco. Tobacco in North Carolina is part of history, and we can't take that away just because someone mandates a law.

"Most of the people who want this ban tend to stay in anyway. When was the last time Susan Burgess stepped foot in a nightclub?

"If a non-smoking venue were viable, then there would be one. Charlotte has The Evening Muse. A large part of their clientele comes from people who want a non-smoking venue. But at a place like Amos', it's just not appropriate.

"In issues of private enterprise, the government should keep out as much as possible. The decision should be left to the individual owner/operator.

"If the government is going to be so concerned about pollution and health risks, they have to focus on other issues as well. I can't stand these people pushing for smoking bans and then hopping into their 7-mile-to-the-gallon SUVs. If they want to legislate smoking, have them go ahead and put limits on auto pollution and industrial pollution. Those are health risks too.

"I see the ban as something trendy. There are all these wannabes¨ who wannabe like New York and California. But this is North Carolina, and we have our own ways here."

Lupie from Lupie's Restaurant:

"I think people who own their own space should have a right to choose whether or not they want to allow smoking. I don't think [a smoking ban] will affect my business, but I do prefer giving an option to my customers.

"Personally, I don't like it, never have. It all seems very Big Brother. We make choices in our lives, and then they're taken away. But in Charlotte, we're used to it.

"I keep a non-smoking section now, because I think people should have a choice, but I personally won't ban it, because many of my customers are smokers, many of them have supported me over the years. But the law is the law, I just prefer to have a choice."

Nick Karres from the Double Door Inn:

"I'm an ex-smoker, so I guess I'm pulled between both sides. I don't agree with it (government ban). I don't like it, but it looks like the thing of the future. Live music and blues, roots and rock, the kind of music we play here, is the kind of music people drink and smoke to. The most common complaint I get is 'it's too smoky.' Personally, I lean toward individual rights. It's just another issue, and honestly I'm tired of it all. But if I was a betting man, I'd say it was gonna happen."

Jason Maxey, general manager of Palomino Restaurant Rotisseria:

"I'm not opposed to a complete ban, but there still needs to be some kind of outlet for smokers. At the Palomino, we have a non-smoking dining room, but the bar allows smoking, and I think that's the best recourse. We need to respect everybody's wishes.

"The government is always involved in restaurants' decisions, this ban isn't too different in this case. We just have to deal with it as it comes. We operate other restaurants in banned areas, and they still run.

"Personally, I could go either way on this. I used to smoke, so I'm sort of in between on this."

Jimmy King from The Penguin:

"I understand the health risks, but when people go specifically to bars, they know what they're getting into. We operate a non-smoking dining room during lunch, and allow smoking only at the bar. We try to make people comfortable, and the smokers are respectful — they aren't blowing smoke into people's faces. But late night, that's a party time, and people are going to smoke.

"I've been to New York where smoking is banned, but places still allow it, people still smoke, the bars just pay the fines."

Chris Brown of the Visulite:

"I definitely oppose it because it would affect our sales. If you come to one of our non-smoking events, you'll find the entire place, especially the bar, less busy. People drink less when they can't smoke, or they go outside, and then they're away from the bar.

"I don't feel the government should try to legislate people's behavior, they should be able to come in and smoke if they want. And I say this as a non-smoker.

"Overall, this ban will affect bars and restaurants' bottom lines. This is especially unfair considering small businesses such as bars, restaurants and music venues pay a good part of the sales tax. The decision to allow smoking should ultimately be up to the individual owner."

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