Door de extreme temperaturen in New York (-20 graden C) vallen de omzetten in de horeca sterk terug. Sommige bars geven aan dat ze, anders dan andere jaren zonder rookverbod, snel in de rode cijfers komen en vrezen voor hun bedrijf.
Cold Weather Plus Smoking Ban Equals Bad Business, Tavern Owners Report
Business at area taverns is plunging lower than the mercury this winter, according to the owners.
Some of them say they aren’t sure if they’ll survive.
The Clean Indoor Air Act was amended last summer to prohibit smoking in just about every workplace and public area.
Lou Ann Ahart, owner of the Lighthouse Tavern on East Bridge Street in Oswego, said it’s hurting business – everybody’s business.
“Business was so bad we couldn’t even afford to pay for a bartender yesterday,” she said.
The tavern did an OK business during the warm weather, she admits. However, during December and January business has dropped off considerably, she said.
“A lot of bars in Oswego aren’t going to be able to survive much longer,” she said, adding that she has heard from her beer suppliers and other vendors that approximately 15 bars around the county would likely close before the end of this year.
She named four that had already closed recently in the Port City.
Ahart says she has no room in which to build an enclosed shelter to protect patrons going outside to smoke.
“It doesn’t look good. I’ve even been closing early,” she said. “My lease runs out in July. If things don’t turn around before that, I’ll just pack up and get out of Oswego.”
Taverns can apply for a waiver, if they meet certain criteria. Ahart said the county doesn’t have the waiver forms yet, but she is on a waiting list.
The county has a “proposed policy” for granting waivers, she noted. But, until it officially adopts it, people requesting waivers are put on a waiting list, she explained.
“I still think it’s wrong,” Ahart said of the smoking ban. “Not too many people are willing to stand up for their rights. A lot of people are just standing in the background complaining.”
Business has also slowed down at Toucan’s Tropical Tavern in Oswego.
Nestled between Water and West First streets, the tavern has no area to afford smokers protection from the elements, especially the brisk winter winds coming off the Oswego River.
“People have been complaining about it, even more so since the cold weather. Some have even said they’d try to quite smoking instead of standing out in the cold,” said Denise Constanza, one of the owners.
Business has slowed down “quite a bit” since the cold weather hit, she said.
During last week’s cold snap, the doors and windows were iced over so badly that you couldn’t see the people smoking outside, she added.
She said Toucan’s might also try and get a waiver.
“We don’t know exactly what we might have lost,” she said. “When we get everything together to do our taxes we can compare last year with the previous year and look at what the difference is between July to December for the two years.”
Denise and her husband, John, own the building and took over the bar about two years ago, she explained.
“It’s been tough at times. But we’re still hanging in there,” she said.
Pam McLaughlin of the Shamrock Tavern on West Seneca Street said she’s still hanging in there as well, but her days may be numbered, she added.
“Our business is down half since the ban started,” she said. “If you don’t have darts or Karaoke or something to bring in customers, they’re going somewhere else now, somewhere they can smoke.”
She said she is also considering applying for a waiver. However, since the county doesn’t even have a policy in place, she wondered what’s the use?
“I am going to give it another year. And if it doesn’t turn around after that, I’m done. I’ll just close up and look for another job. I can’t afford to keep losing money,” she said.
Like many other tavern owners, she says she doesn’t agree with the smoking ban.
Maybe in the summer people don’t mind stepping outside for a smoke; but who wants to stand outside and smoke in freezing cold and snow, she said.
“We’re losing a lot of business to the clubs where smoking is allowed. An awful lot of people are going to the clubs, and I don’t blame them,” she said. “We usually get a small crowd of people after work who stay for about an hour. Then, I might be sitting here with just two or three people until midnight.”