The predictions of a few were dire a year ago as St. Louis City & County went mostly smoke-free. What happened? Like every year, some places closed and others opened.
Some places started off claiming they were exempt, posting the required sign to warn potential customers before entering.
I used the above photograph in a post on January 10, 2011 titled Smoking Allowed Here where I questioned the exemption for this establishment. Milo’s is owned by 10th ward alderman Joe Vollmer. Ald Vollmer told me that day, barely a week into the new law, that he and his business partner were considering making Milo’s smoke-free.
I stopped in for lunch last month and confirmed they didn’t close because they went smoke-free nor did they go back to being a smoking establishment.
I received the following message from owner Ald Joe Vollmer:
Overall business is up maybe 3 to 5 percent. We are seeing new faces and we are missing some of the old ones. The majority response is highly positive. We have embraced theÂ change, and will always do whatever we can to make Milos a great experience.
I’m told other establishments weren’t so fortunate, non-smokers didn’t replace the lost smokers. Others said smokers wouldn’t buy much but sit for hours…smoking.
Honestly I saw no real difference. We have had our strongest salesÂ year to date, but we have gained consistently every year since weÂ opened nearly seven years ago. We saw a bit of a bump when we wentÂ smoke free. We were smoking from the spring of 05 to the spring of 08.Â People certainly still smoke here, but they now just step outside. ItÂ has been seamless if even unremarkable. There is no more noise.
People’s mindsets for the most part have changed. It has been twoÂ years since I even posted a sign that we are smoke free anywhere inÂ the place. It is expected now to be smoke free, and most ask theÂ doorman before entering if they can smoke out back. We have had only aÂ handful of instances when we started the policy in which someoneÂ unwittingly lit up indoors. Now people are just expecting to stepÂ outside to smoke.
I talked to MokaBe’s owner Mo Costello last week, she was glad they were forced to go smoke-free a year ago. To Costello the construction on Grand, the closed Grand viaduct and the economy have been bigger issues for her
Many places built nice outdoor patios in 2011 to accommodate smokers. The very smokey Riley’s Pub on Arsenal is in the middle of improving the space in front of their business.
I have no idea what their plans are once this work is completed. I talked to friends that live within walking distance and they no longer patronize Riley’s because they now have so many smoke-free options. Hopefully they will opt to go smoke-free before the exemption expires. I found no mention of a patio on Riley’s Facebook page.
The last day of the exemption is New Year’s Day 2016, four more years to adjust and become smoke-free on 1/2/2016. I’m sure a few will cry fowl and say they didn’t Â have time to prepare, to build patio space for their smoking customers. By then hopefully some places have smoke-free outdoor spaces as well, nothing ruins a meal like cigarette smoke.
- Steve Patterson