Restaurant Owners Saw Increased Business Three Years after Smoking Ban

By: Amelia Nahmias Email
By: Amelia Nahmias Email

HARRISONBURG, Va -- Gold Crown Billiards went through some major modifications in 2009 to comply with smoking restrictions.

"Three years ago it was a completely different scene in here,” said Megan Mele, co-owner of Gold Crown Billiards, “We were known traditionally as a billiards hall, a pool hall. Therefore all the old guys would come in, play some pool, and smoke their cigarettes. So, of course, back then it was a total smoke sheen in here."

Smoking was not completely banned, but there were some major restrictions.

“We were a little confused as to what to do with our clientele because this is what they had known, always done all their lives."

The building of Gold Crown needed a whole new ventilation system.

"Several contractors told us it would've been tens of thousands of dollars, which as a small business owner, that was something we could not take on as a business."

They decided to go smoke free instead.

"The first six to eight months was a total transition because our regular clients were coming in and they couldn't smoke anymore. They had to go outside. But, at the same time we gained so many new clientele that would have never come here before because we were a smoking establishment."

They made a few changes to make it more enjoyable for their smokers outside.

“We did add a full outdoor patio. Therefore our smokers are welcome to go outside, they can eat out there, and smoke all the cigarettes they like."

The ban that started as a difficulty for Mele and her husband, didn't end up so bad after all.

"So I have to say it's been extremely positive on the outcome over the past three years. We've been able to open different avenues as far as a full music venue, a full menu at the bar, just because we've gone non smoking."

Other restaurants, like Dave's Taverna, had all the necessary ventilation systems but decided to go smoke free anyways. There are also some businesses that still allow smoking.

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