Smoking Ban a Boon to Local Restaurant

The MacPhersons
The MacPhersons

Are you breathing a little easer over dinner these days? It's been two weeks since most of Georgia went smoke-free. But has it affected business?

For some, it's too early to tell, but so far it looks like the loyal customers are pretty much sticking around. And some places have actually picked up some new patrons.

The last time the MacPhersons went to Ronnie's off Dean Forest Road, they didn't think they would ever go back. "Just people smoking everywhere, all around you, flicking it in our kids' faces," said Laura MacPherson. "No respect for people with children at all."

But when the indoor smoking ban went into effect, the Macphersons gave Ronnie's a second chance. "It seems much cleaner in here. It was really smoky."

"I have three kids of my own and I don't want cigarette smoke around them," said Stephanie Ertzberger, who works at Ronnie's.

She says business hasn't been hurt at all by the smoking ban. "We've only had one person complain. Other than that it's been really great."

She says regulars still show up, and they even have some new customers who bring their kids. "You wouldn't want to eat with smoke in your face and stuff," she said. "It's been really good."

"The first two times, there was smoke everywhere," said Laura. "The food was good, but we decided to come back."

When the Smoke Free Air Act went into effect, Laura says for her family, it was a breath of fresh air. "It really means a lot to go to a restaurant that has good food and doesn't have smoke."

The act went into effect July 1 for almost all public places, with a few exceptions, including bars and restaurants that serve only 18-year-olds and up.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com