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May 28, 2005

Death Toll

( I first posted this on Wednesday, May 25. I'm bumping it to the weekend; please leave your observations in the comments).

There's a spirited discussion going on in comment thread on the fallout of the smoking ban.

In the thread, a commenter notes that the Park Tavern in Bloomington - a long-time institution in Bloomington, as I understand it - has apparently closed.

Another commenter - from the American Lung Association of Minnesota - notes correctly that "bars closed before the smoking ban". However, it could be fairly pointed out that since bars and restaurants operate on very tight margins, the smoking ban and the attendant drop in traffic (which is, by many anecdotal reports, severe to catastrophic) will only make those margins tighter, and untenable for many, many more bars.

So let's try to figure this out. If you're a bar owner or employee in the Twin Cities, or know someone who is, leave me a comment; how is business doing? I'd like to take the temperature of the local bar scene and cut through both sides' propaganda.

Leave a comment!

I'll start. Word has it Gabby's, a longtime Northeast Minneapolis joint, has laid off half of its staff.

More?

UPDATE May 28: I'm bumping this ahead, as I head out to check some places.

I'll report tomorrow; you all do the same, y'hear?

Posted by Mitch at May 28, 2005 06:18 PM | TrackBack
Comments

When will there be something other than anecdotal evidence; will sales taxe revenues be broken down by industry and county/municipality? Also, is there any takings aspect to this? I mean, if new environmental regulations which greatly harm the value of property can trigger an actionable claim for compensation, can this sort of regulation do the same?

Posted by: Will Allen at May 25, 2005 06:15 PM

Sorry, meant to post the above in the other thread.

Posted by: Will Allen at May 25, 2005 06:16 PM

People at two bars I bend an elbow at -- one well known by members of the Northern Alliance -- report traffic and tips down. One has cut back on beer deliveries, it seems.

Posted by: The Rat at May 25, 2005 09:14 PM

To Will's point: This is something I would expect at least one paper to cover, perhaps on the one year anniversary around April of 2006. Despite the rainy weather, this is the easy part of the schedule. Wait until November, when going outside is more arduous.

Posted by: R-Five at May 25, 2005 10:32 PM

It is a no brainer that this will cause the closing of bars. Also with the Min. Wage increase Mn. is doing to bars what they are doing to business, Killing them slowly.

Posted by: Brian at May 26, 2005 12:02 AM


Here is a list of businesses supposedly close because of smoking bans around the US:

http://www.smokersclubinc.com/banloss3.htm

Posted by: CCK at May 26, 2005 02:20 AM

Mr. Allen: It will take about a year to get any tax information that would be used to judge the economic impact -- if any -- of the smoking bans. You can be certain this will be in the news.

As for "takings" claims regarding smoking ban, these have been rejected by courts from coast to coast, I don't anticipate it would fare any differently here.

Yesterday a (second) Hennepin County judge rejected a (second) request to lift the smoking ban on the basis of claimed economic losses to bars and restaurants.

Posted by: Bob from the Lung Association of Minnesota at May 26, 2005 06:52 AM

Time to start stop cooperating with the local and state authorities and start "smoke-easy" places (hey...Mitch sent me..looking through the peep hole and the password).

This is a total job killer and hope the commie do-gooders in Minneapolis and Hennepin County choke on it when their fookin' tax revenue goes away along with most busninesses (combined with the stadium tax, another thing they will not let people get anywhere near to vote on). We are doing well in Oakdale (liquor stores open to 10...smoking in bars...raking in the dough from you losers in Minneapolis and parts of Saint Paul).

Time for a little open rebellion by smokers and drinkers..vote with your feet and dollars...like the "Not a DIME Campaign" for the Repub. reptiles

Posted by: Greg at May 26, 2005 08:16 AM

Sportsman's Pub - revenues were down 30-40% the first week after the smoking ban, and has not recovered. If anything, it's slipped even further. No new non-smokers patronizing the joint, and neighbors complaining about the people smoking on the sidewalk out front. Most defectors are heading ten blocks up Como to the American, which is in St. Paul and allows smoking.

BW-3 Har Mar, in Roseville - It's now possible to get a seat during Happy Hour on Tuesday night, and clientele are generally there for shorter stays. Food sales are stable, but alcohol sales are down (no exact percentage was given). Rather than step outside for a smoke, people step outside and keep stepping, all the way to another bar where they can smoke.

Posted by: DaveP at May 26, 2005 08:21 AM

Dear Mr. Lung:

I spoke to my local American Legion. Revenues are down significantly since the ban started. Its a fact: The ban DOES have an economic impact. Denying it is like denying that the sun rises in the morning.

Next...while I do think this will affect the state's revenue forecasts and collections, it certainly won't impact them much. But it will. My suggestion to the State? ANY public funds to the ALA or the ACS be cut.

Which leads me to why I do not give you much credit for providing any honest information in this case. You have a built-in bias to create an emergency where none really exists. You need donations and you need people to be paranoid like mice in a cage. Without people beleiving the myths of second-hand smoke, you would be financially impacted.

In short, you need people to be in a panic. Face it: If people don't like smoke, don't patronize the business. Easy answer. Better yet....open your own bar/resturant and cater to the smoke-free crowd.

Posted by: Dave at May 26, 2005 08:53 AM

"Time for a little open rebellion by smokers and drinkers..vote with your feet and dollars..."

So your going to stick it to the local governments by intentionally runing privately owned bars out of business? Nice

Posted by: Nick at May 26, 2005 09:17 AM

Speaking for myself, I voted with my feet decades ago by not starting smoking. Beyond the thrice-annual cigar, I just don't do it.

But let's not confuse things; it's the anti-smoking jihadis who are running people out of business with the aid of municipal government.

Posted by: mitch at May 26, 2005 09:31 AM

"it's the anti-smoking jihadis who are running people out of business with the aid of municipal government."

No one is MAKING smokers go to other bars. That they choose to as a result of municipal and county government law is unfortunate for the buisnesses. If I were a bar owner that was affected I would be angry about the ban but I wouldn't be too happy with the former regulars who stuck it to me to make a political point that I had no influence over either. It just seems like the whole "vote with your feet" crowd are intentionally making the problem worse for the bars.

Posted by: nICK at May 26, 2005 09:56 AM

Taking out your anger on the businesses is not the answer. But....if you don't like smoke....then patronize ones that chose (on their own) to restrict smoking. Let the market decide.

In speaking with Republican friends in Bloomington and Eden Prairie, the actual "voting" will be done the next time Randy Johnson is up for re-election to the county board. Remember...Johnson (the RINO) claims to be a Republican and gets the endorsement. This issue, added to the Carl Pohlad welfare tax, will doom him. The GOP leaders have noted these things and he's going to lose the endorsement and never get those votes again.

Unfortunately....his term is up 12/31/2008.

Posted by: Dave at May 26, 2005 09:59 AM

"Time for a little open rebellion by smokers and drinkers..vote with your feet and dollars..."

post by Greg

"So your going to stick it to the local governments by intentionally runing privately owned bars out of business? Nice"

Posted by Nick"

Listen here Nickboy...I don't fookin' care how many local governments and local businesses I gotta smash by use of my pocketbook and vote in the marketplace. I am not giving any sanction to you people to how you people run my life, what I smoke and what I drink.
If killing local business is the only way to get you guys attention in Communist Minnesota, then it is the way to go.

Nickboy...we are going to deprive you of your last victims.

Posted by: Greg at May 26, 2005 10:13 AM

I'll say this again, from my posts yesterday:

With the significant drop-off of business at bars...you just wait and watch what happens to the charitable pull-tab funds that go to pay for little Johnny's ball field and pay for little Suzie's soccer league. Only the locally owned bars/resturuants offer this....and you are KILLING them off. But who cares....those evil businesses are gettin' what they deserve, huh?

Screw the VFWs. Screw the American Legions. Screw the Park Taverns. By the way, after these parents have to foot the bill for their ball field repairs....who's gonna SPONSOR these teams? But that's ok with the American Lung Association, I guess.

Posted by: Dave at May 26, 2005 10:26 AM

"Listen here Nickboy...I don't fookin' care how many local governments and local businesses I gotta smash by use of my pocketbook and vote in the marketplace. I am not giving any sanction to you people to how you people run my life, what I smoke and what I drink.
If killing local business is the only way to get you guys attention in Communist Minnesota, then it is the way to go."

Greg - A bit presumptuous aren't we? Where did I say that I was for the ban?

You prove my point that you are trying to make it worse for the businesses. It just seems misdirected to me. Do you not purchase things at grocery stores, clothing stores, or from insurance companies, accountants, etc. that don't allow smoking?

Posted by: Nick at May 26, 2005 10:41 AM

I'm not a bar or restaurant owner. However, I know in NE Minneapolis, several establishments are experiencing serious declines in business. I did have a conversation with the owner of Jax Cafe(awesome steaks, by the way) about their downturn. He and several other NE Mpls owners cite their losses in today's Strib article.

I think it is the "border bars" that are most dramatically affected. It is only a mile or two from many of the NE establishments to the county line in Columbia Heights. Bloomington is affected for the same reason. That means another thing - those customers migrating to establishments in more tolerant, pro-choice counties represent lost sales tax revenue to the municipality and/or county (if they have or are getting such a tax).

Personally, I prefer going to a smoke free bar, but I am not so narcisistic as to think something other than the market that should decide the issue.

Posted by: Barry H at May 26, 2005 11:07 AM

Here in Massachusetts restaurants and bars that waited out the initial slowdowns have since reported business is up. Maybe more people willing to go to places they used to avoid once they realized they'd be able to breath. Or be able to take kids and babies, which they may have previously avoided.

I know around here, there are very few restaurants where you don't have to wait for a table, and the whole state is smoke free.

Posted by: jody at May 26, 2005 11:36 AM

So, Nicky.....a customer who avoids a place where he is not welcome and patronizes a place where he IS welcome is making a political point? And simply because the government has imposed laws denying private business owners the right to develop and present their own setting and services, it's the CUSTOMERS who are "making the problem worse?"

What have you been smoking? Time to cut down.

Posted by: Eracus at May 26, 2005 11:40 AM

Isn't that wonderful? No one smokes in a Boston pub anymore, so people can finally take their kids and babies in. Now, THERE'S a community! Folks are just lining up for a seat at the bar with the kids now that no one smokes in Massachusetts and people can finally breathe again. Business is up!

Does President Kerry know about this?

Posted by: Eracus at May 26, 2005 11:54 AM

Eracus - I didn't say that the government didn't create a problem. I said that customers like that are "making the problem WORSE" and Greg confirmed that at least he is intentionally doing so (as a political statement).

The smoking ban does not mean smokers aren't welcome. They can't smoke in the bar. There is a difference between a person and a behavior.

A ban doesn't prevent the ex-patrons from making decisions. They can say "Hey I like that bar and I've know the owner for years and its close to home so I'll keep going to the bar and I'll just get up and smoke outside. It sucks but I really don't want to see the bar go out of business by the time we get organized and get the ban overturned next year" They can then work to do just that. Or they can say "I'm pissed so screw you even though you aren't the one who pissed me off"

The point is that the patrons have choices and it seems misdirected to be so fatalistic about how a ban will kill business and then do everything you can to ensure that it does.

But hey - its your choice.

Posted by: Nick at May 26, 2005 12:04 PM

Jody - the difference between Massachusetts and Minnesota is that the ban in Massachusetts is (as you stated)STATE WIDE!!!! The citizens of Massachusetts have no other choice. Here in Minnesota we do have a choice. Those who want smoke free have not stepped up to the plate and those that want to smoke have taken their business to counties where they can smoke at the bar. The survey I want to see is how much business has gone up in bars and restaurants in the collar counties!

Oh, by the way, smoke or no smoke - kids do NOT belong in bars.

Posted by: Cindy at May 26, 2005 12:14 PM

Eracus - I didn't say that the government didn't create a problem. I said that customers like that are "making the problem WORSE" and Greg confirmed that at least he is intentionally doing so (as a political statement).

quoted Nick...

...so it is the customers fault that bars and restaurants are failing...the customer is stupid...and dumb in your eyes, Nick. So the customer is to meekly and mildly take it in the shorts to sooth the Volvo Liberals haughtiness when they walk into a working class bar and not have to smell smoke.

I still say vote with your feet and pocketbook on ANYTHING in Hennepin County especially when new tax rates and laws to circumscribe your life come about.

Only way to crash this socialist system is to deprive it of revenue and if that mean half the business fold in their respective areas they keep in tax and regulation slavery, so be it.

Let the smoking and bloodsports begin...

Posted by: Greg at May 26, 2005 12:29 PM

"The smoking ban does not mean smokers aren't welcome. They can't smoke in the bar."

--more evidence of the failure of public education. It's illogic like this that leads to the conclusion there exists a difference between a person and his behavior, which, come to think of it, explains alot these days.

So.....smokers are welcome; they just can't smoke. And if they prefer a location where their rights are respected, they are "fatalistic" business-killers.

I see. Heads you win, tails they lose. That's fair, isn't it??

Posted by: Eracus at May 26, 2005 12:40 PM

"So the customer is to meekly and mildly take it in the shorts to sooth the Volvo Liberals haughtiness when they walk into a working class bar and not have to smell smoke.

I still say vote with your feet and pocketbook on ANYTHING in Hennepin County especially when new tax rates and laws to circumscribe your life come about."

You completely missed my point. Its your choice. I don't really care what you do and I'm not going to tell you what to do. I just think its misdirected to try to kill a business to get at the government. Why do you think that this is an effective strategy on this particular issue? When has it been sucessful in the past?

Eracus: So people and their behaviors can't be separated? Are you saying gambling, having sex, swearing, smoking aren't things we choose to do? We just ARE gamblers, f%&kers, swearers and smokers and there is no choice? You are not allowed to partake in most of these activities in most places but that does not mean YOU are not welcome. Regarding business killers - see above.

Posted by: Nick at May 26, 2005 01:22 PM

I wrote to Commissioner Opat at the beginning of May re his stadium plan for the Twins and asking him what figures he relied on to base the projected revenues as to the collection of the sales tax and the projected payoff timeframe for the bonds and wouldn't his figures be flawed given the county-wide smoking ban and revenues having been reported to be down 25% across the board (per anecdotal figures printed in the Star & Tribune).

His reply, printed in its entirety: " I apologize for the delay in getting back to you.

We use MN Department of Revenue numbers. I suppose that the decline would matter to a very small degree. But it would only do even that if other taxable expenditures did not replace the restaurant business."

Thank you for writing.

Mike Opat

That folks, is some clear thinking about the loss of bar and tavern revenues. Just ignore it and it will go away.

Posted by: MissMary at May 27, 2005 02:20 PM

Mary: What the hell did you expect? Opat is the same guy to voted for BOTH proposals. Both votes show a complete lack of intelligence....which is exactly why the mind-numbed boobs in Minneapolis keep re-electing him....

Posted by: Dave at May 27, 2005 02:58 PM

"Yesterday a (second) Hennepin County judge rejected a (second) request to lift the smoking ban on the basis of claimed economic losses to bars and restaurants."

Anyone notice that Lung Guy says this like it's a good thing?

So smug in the belief that he, in his wisdom, is doing "what's best" for us little folk.

Posted by: Sandy at May 27, 2005 06:09 PM

Excellent comments, to Nick I would ask this hypothetical: if you were a devote Guiness drinker and dumbass politicians banned Guiness in Hennepin County bars because Miller brewing promulgated a lie. Wouldn't you frequent the Ramsey county bars where Guiness flowed freely?

By the way smoking ban legislation is paid for by the RWJF pharmaceutical nicotine interests. It is big business, profit motivated, facts on secondhand smoke be damned.

Posted by: marcus aurelius at May 28, 2005 04:47 PM

We are getting the best business ever up here in Columbia Heights!

Posted by: Blubbo at May 28, 2005 11:16 PM

I'm part of a group of friends who live in Minneapolis, and dine out a couple of times a week. We love going to the small joints. Instead of going to the ones in Minneapolis, we're discovering new ones.

Each week I call Don Samuels and let him know what the running total is on money spent outside the city. I thank him warmly for helping me find new and interesting places to eat and drink.

But it's Tim Pawlenty that amazes me. He said if the legislature passes a statewide ban, he'd sign it. This was the dumbest political move he'd ever made. Such action will get him exactly zero votes on the liberal side, but it will piss of a lot of folks who might otherwise vote for him.

I did write that it "was" the dumbest move. His cigarette user fee has taken the top spot. Again--no liberal votes will be gained, but a ton of conservative supporters angered.

I certainly won't vote for Mike Hatch for governor, but I'll think long and hard before I vote for TP.

Posted by: M. G. at May 29, 2005 09:06 AM

More anecdotal evidence - was out last night at the Sprawl, meeting friends at America's Original Sports Bar. Place was only about half full, and every so often about half of those folks would clear out and head for the parking ramp to have a nic fit. Something tells me they're not going to be so interested in doing that come winter...they'll find some other place where they can drink and have a smoke without going out into the freezing temperatures.

Posted by: Kevin at May 29, 2005 04:17 PM

I support anyone and anything that will cut down on young people smoking.......I am going to restaurants now that I didn't go to before.

Posted by: Mimo at May 29, 2005 07:05 PM

Mimo,

I don't want my kids to start smoking either. However, since you'd support "anyone and anything" to prevent it, why not push for a complete statewide ban on sales and consumption of tobacco?

I can't speak for you, but the state has no interest in doing that while cigarettes are a total cash cow.

By the way, "young people" aren't supposed to be in bars. If they start smoking, I suspect it has less to do with bars and restaurants than with many other things.

Cigarettes are a LEGAL addiction, like alcohol. While they're LEGAL, why punish smokers and, more importantly, restauranteurs and publicans?

Posted by: mitch at May 29, 2005 07:21 PM

I am more then willing to get involved in a satewide ban..have already contacted my legislators
who informed me though they will support it..the votes arn't there..and bans community by community will pick a way at the scabs on those that oppose it.

Posted by: Mimo at May 30, 2005 05:35 PM

Do yourselves a favor and make it a statewide ban. We did it in Mass and they did it in NY and it worked, in both states. Sure, sales were down initially, but now my (I own a bar and grill in Boston) sales are averaging 10% more than they were before the ban...The smokers still come in, they simply have to go outside to smoke, everywhere.

For what it's worth, I quit smoking about 6 weeks after the ban began...

Posted by: Rachel at May 30, 2005 07:22 PM

"To Nick I would ask this hypothetical: if you were a devote Guiness drinker and dumbass politicians banned Guiness in Hennepin County bars because Miller brewing promulgated a lie. Wouldn't you frequent the Ramsey county bars where Guiness flowed freely?"

Not likely. I actually do have a thing for Guiness (Drinking one right now). However, I tend to prefer walking to bars near home (Minneapolis) so I don't have to worry about getting home if I'm inclined to drink a bit extra. So the analogy may not be quite apt in my case. But I tend to prefer to go near home for almost anything I can. Its a big reason that I live in the city.

I guess for me the smoking ban in bars is not particulary suprising since it is banned in almost every private business anyways. It seems to me to be the final nail in that particular coffin rather than the begining of a property rights battle.

Posted by: Nick Frank at May 30, 2005 07:50 PM

"I guess for me the smoking ban in bars is not particulary suprising since it is banned in almost every private business anyways...."

The reason smoking ban legislation needs to end once & for all is because of what the city of St. Louis Park, MN. discovered in 2004 regarding secondhand smoke.

The Environmental Health Department of St. Louis Park, MN tests prove secondhand smoke in bars & restaurants is 150 times lower (safer than) OSHA permissible exposure limits.

http://fightcityhall.net/_wsn/page2.html

Secondhand smoke doesn't approach anywhere near OSHA regulations to be considered a health hazard, and wouldn't be brought to local government attention if it weren't for Nicoderm, Nicotrol money being funneled through ALA, ACS, and all the other non-profits to local lobbying efforts. It is big pharmaceutical taking on big tobacco utilizing local government action to eliminate thousands of jobs in between.

http://citizenjo.blogspot.com/2005/05/why-is-pharmaceutical-company-funding.html

The sad thing is that average citizens believe the misinformation because it comes from the non-profits.

By the way statewide doesn't make the bans less costly regarding impact:

NY is statewide 2,650 jobs lost & counting...

Ireland is nationwide 7,600 jobs lost & counting...

Posted by: marcus aurelius at May 31, 2005 02:04 PM

I can't believe it, my co-worker just bought a car for $42785. Isn't that crazy!

Posted by: Betsy Markum at November 14, 2005 06:57 PM

I can't believe it, my co-worker just bought a car for $75601. Isn't that crazy!

Posted by: Betsy Markum at January 19, 2006 11:58 PM
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