Restaurant smoking rules go into effect
Iowa City's new smoking ban will begin clearing the air today in dozens of eateries despite lingering discontent from some restaurant owners.
The ban applies to all establishments that serve food for on-premises consumption and that sell more food than alcohol.
In other words, the ban applies to any restaurant that just serves food, such as Village Inn, and many more restaurants that also serve alcohol, such as Carlos O'Kelly's, Ground Round and Buffalo Wild Wings.
However, as of Thursday afternoon, 44 of about 90 establishments licensed to serve alcohol in the city had requested a full or temporary exemption from the ban. At least 46 eateries on that list will now be smoke-free.
Some restaurant owners are only reluctantly cooperating with the new ordinance, which carries a $25 fine for smokers and a $100 fine for an establishment owner for a first violation.
Laura Sueppel-Lansdon, co-owner of La Casa Restaurant at 1200 S. Gilbert Court, believes the ban will cost the restaurant customers.
She and co-workers have posted a sign near the front of the restaurant that says: "Effective March 1 smoking will no longer be permitted on our premises. We didn't make this decision. The City Council did."
La Casa manager Karen Tinkey said some customers were saying final good-byes after lunch on Thursday.
"A lot of them are saying they won't be back," she said. "There's nothing like pushing customers to go to Coralville."
Other restaurant owners are redrafting their menus to comply with the requirements of the new ordinance.
The owner of the Sanctuary has said he has tried to lower the price of some of his entrees to reduce revenue from food sales. He has been granted a one-year temporary exemption from the ban, along with nine other bar/eateries.
Still other restaurateurs don't seem to mind the government-imposed change.
Andy Huang, an employee of Yen Ching restaurant at 1803 Boyrum St., said he doesn't think the restaurant will lose its smoking customers.
"Every restaurant will be non-smoking," he said, adding that most of the employees also are happy about the change.
The council adopted the ordinance to protect restaurant workers and customers from the hazards of second-hand smoke.
While some customers said Thursday they think the ban is a good idea, others, such as Emily Matson, do not.
Still, Matson, a Village Inn customer, she she'll still probably patronize restaurants that now are non-smoking.
"It's going to piss me off, but I probably won't stop coming," she said.