Bar says it may close because of smoking ban

By Brian Entin - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The Dew Drop Inn in Savannah is the kind of place locals relax after work. Most grab a beer and a cigarette.

It's been the neighborhood bar at Abercorn and Largo since 1964, but come January 1st when the Savannah smoking ban starts, the owner says no smoking will mean no customers.

"It will probably put me out of business, and then I will have employees who are going to be in the unemployment line," owner Butch Willis said.

Willis says 80 percent of his customers are smokers. He says drinking and smoking go hand in hand. Willis thinks his customers will leave the city to smoke in bars after the ban. "They can go four miles down the road and drink and smoke there so why would they come here," Willis said.

Carl Blanchard owns Hideaway Sports Grill. He is less concerned about his business and more worried about what he calls the big picture. "Our freedom of choice and rights are being taken away with this law. I don't care about anything else. None of that matters. What matters is freedom of choice," Blanchard said.

The smokers at Dew Drop Inn aren't afraid to point fingers. They blame Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson for the smoking ban, and they say they will blame him when they have to close down.

"If he wants to make a business non smoking, then tell him he can buy it, but until then, he needs to stay out of my business," Willis said.

Copyright 2010 WTOC. All rights reserved.