Cecilia’s owner proposes smoke store
BRECKENRIDGE – Jeff Cox might get to sell tobacco after all.Cox, who owns Cecilia’s nightclub in Breckenridge, used to offer a humidor with cigars customers could purchase and enjoy at the bar. That was until the town implemented a smoke-free initiative to protect employees from secondhand smoke.The county and its four major towns adopted the initiative June 1. It prohibits smoking in all businesses except tobacco stores. Cox plans to sell and allow customers to sample cigars, shisha in hookah pipes and imported and clove cigarettes.The smoke-free workplace initiative, which bans smoking in all public places including restaurants and bars – but exempts tobacco stores – precluded Cox from selling cigars in his bar. He argued that the cigars provide much of the ambiance of his establishment.But determination might win out.Tuesday, the Breckenridge Town Council looked at preliminary plans that call for a 530-square-foot business at the northeast corner of Cecilia’s dance floor. A door off the dance floor would lead to a corridor that would lead to a door opening into The Tobacco Bar, where people can sample and purchase tobacco products.
The public could also access the tobacco store from a door that leads to a hallway just north of the bar or from a back door that doubles as a delivery entrance off Ridge Street.Even though the business would be established under a different name and management than Cecilia’s, the council was concerned that the two businesses were too “connected,” and that the tobacco store could merely wind up being used by Cecilia’s patrons as a smoking lounge. The ordinance disallows a business to operate in conjunction with another establishment that has a food or liquor license, said town clerk Mary Jean Loufek.”It’s clearly not by coincidence it’s located directly next door with immediate access (to Cecilia’s),” said Mayor Ernie Blake.Town attorney Tim Berry noted that if Cox was planning to open a tobacco store elsewhere – he cited the Parkway Center, where City Market is anchored – the council wouldn’t be having the discussion at all.”If you couldn’t access this from Cecilia’s I’d say go for it,” added councilmember Jim Lamb. “It wouldn’t be in conjunction at all.”Cox, who was told the discussion would take place in executive session, was not at the town council worksession Tuesday afternoon.
He said Wednesday, however, that if the town council wanted him to eliminate the door that accessed the corridor from his dance floor, he’d be more than happy to do so. But the logic still fails him.He noted that the maze of corridors that wind through La Cima Mall essentially “connect” him to other establishments in the mall, yet they are not related to one another.Councilmember Larry Crispell agreed.”When I think of conjunction, I think of a tobacco store operating inside Cecilia’s,” he said. “With this, I think he’s done a good job of satisfying the goals we tried to establish in the smoking ordinance.”Another concern the council had was that people would bring their own tobacco products into the store and smoke – essentially turning the store into a smoking lounge.That argument is strengthened by the fact that customers will be allowed to sample products. And there’s nothing stopping them from bringing their own tobacco products into the store.
“I picture it being packed full of people smoking their own cigarettes,” said councilmember J.B. Katz. “It’s not fair to everybody else. You can’t do that at Fatty’s or the Dredge.”Cox argues that the store will also provide a place for people who don’t drink to socialize and enjoy a smoke.Cox hopes to open the store Nov. 15, and is facing advertising deadlines that can’t wait much longer. But he’s not overly worried.”Word of mouth will be most of it,” he said. “There are clubs in L.A., where if you don’t know somebody, you’re never going to find them, but they’re packed. This is a unique environment; they’ll see it out. They’ll find a way to get there.”Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or at email@example.com.
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