Restaurant Adopts Smoking Ban Early - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/12/05

Restaurant Adopts Smoking Ban Early

If you smoke, you know there aren't many places left to light up. And even fewer with Georgia's brand new public smoking ban.

It's getting mixed reviews from everyone. But one very famous Savannah restaurant is pioneering the effort to put the law to work, starting immediately. It's the well-known Crystal Beer Parlor. They say there is no reason to delay putting the new law into effect, and it's something the owner has wanted to do for a while anyway.

Everything you see in the Crystal Beer Parlor is original and it's all been here since 1933, including the "no spitting" sign. That's soon to be joined by literally a sign of the times: no smoking.

When the restaurant opened in the 1930s it was rumored to be a smoke-filled speakeasy. But this now famous restaurant is moving forward, banning smoking before the July deadline.

"There's no sense in waiting till July," said owner Suzanne Kosic. "The bill is signed, just do it."

It's something Kosic has wanted to do since she reopened the restaurant in 2003. "I believe in nonsmoking restaurants," she said. "The reason I hadn't done it before is there were so many customers coming in who did smoke and I was scared to lose their clientele."

But some of the regulars are thrilled at the idea. "If you want to smoke, it's your choice, but other people shouldn't have to breathe your secondhand smoke," said customer Kristin Roberts. "That's just the way I feel about it."

They also think Kosic is brave. "That's guts to be the first person," customer Cedric Douglas said.

And while he says it's great for him, he does worry about Kosic's business. "People like to smoke and relax and unwind, sit down and smoke especially after they eat, have a cigarette at the bar and everything."

So far, Kosic has only received a little negative feedback. "There are two lovely ladies who love to join us in the smoking room and they told us today they would not be back," she said.

But she says she thinks the nonsmokers will outnumber the smokers and even the smokers will be back for her burgers.

The Crystal Beer Parlor is hoping other restaurants will soon follow their lead. Their ban goes into effect on Monday, but other bars and restaurants that fall under the ban officially don't need to comply until July 1.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro, kangelastro@wtoc.com

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