Bar owners offer shelter to smokers
SUMMIT COUNTY – Smokers are no longer allowed to light up inside Summit County bars, but some local bar owners are spending big money to make sure their patrons will still belly-up.”I invested $10,000 in a complete remodel,” said Jonn Greco, owner of Upstairs at Jonny G’s Sports Bar in Frisco. “I’m not doing this to gain patrons – I’m doing it to cater to my current patrons. This is, without a doubt, necessary.”A crew of construction workers spent Tuesday overhauling Greco’s deck to provide a sanctuary for smokers. A new smoking ban that took effect on Tuesday prohibits them from puffing indoors at the once-smoky bar.”It’s especially challenging for a place like Jonny G’s, because we’re on the second floor,” Greco said. “If I hadn’t done this, customers would have to go all the way downstairs and outside to have a cigarette. And they probably wouldn’t come back up.”
Greco’s new deck is only accessible from inside the bar, which eliminates the need for smokers to show identification every time they re-enter after a smoke. The new deck also reduces the likelihood that customers will leave the premises to smoke with a drink in-hand – a violation of the liquor code.While some bars are shelling out thousands, other previously smoke-friendly locales aren’t skipping a beat – namely those that already have decks and patios, like Murphy’s Food and Spirits in Silverthorne.”We have a patio with about 10 tables and a horseshoe pit,” said Murphy’s manager Jason Ward. “If they’re smoking, that’s where they’re going. If it’s cold, they need to bring a jacket. That patio out there is going to help us big time.”Ward said that several smoking patrons made their way outside without much complaint on Tuesday.”It’s definitely a big plus for me,” Ward said. “I can breathe in here again.”
Dan Fallon, owner of Barkley’s West in Frisco, expects to bear increased labor costs during the long term, in addition to the short-term remodel costs.He is investing $4,000 in the construction of the “Zen Den,” an Asian-themed smoking gazebo adjacent to his club.”We’re trying to make lemonade out of some lemons,” Fallon said. “This is going to be set up away from the front door so smokers don’t feel like second-class citizens. But it’s one more place to have to watch to control liability (and) one more place to clean. It will require more manpower.”Scott Jackson, owner of the Goat in Keystone, plans to spend $5,000 to $6,000 sprucing up his outdoor areas for smokers. The owners of Gator’s Blue River Inn in Farmer’s Korner will spend $15,000 to $20,000.
“That’s a huge hit,” Jackson said. “It’s been a matter of survival for bar and restaurant owners for years in this county. A bill like this stings quite a bit.”According to Jackson, however, the biggest challenges are still a few months down the road.”It’s going to be fairly easy in the summer. What concerns me is the 20-below weather in December and January,” he said. “We’ll have to put up some Plexiglas without enclosing the space completely, and we’ll probably put out some coffee, hot chocolate and some heaters.”Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998 x203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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