Area Bars Go Smoke Free

By: Mark Lindner
By: Mark Lindner

The air has been clean at the Carlyle Brewing Co. since August 1st, and for owner Don Carlyle, this has meant big business.

"Its grown. We're still putting numbers together, but we're looking at an average of probably forty-five percent since we went smoke free," Carlyle says.

Carlyle is hardly alone. When Habaneros opened in Rockford nine months ago, from the start owners decided to try something different and keep the smokers outside.

"There's a lot of people who wouldn't go out because the places were just full of smoke. Now that there's an option, a place where they can go out that's non-smoking, you're getting that business that never went out before," says Habaneros owner James Terhark.

And while some area restaurants have been smoke-free for awhile now, another one, Diamond Dave's is just now jumping on the bandwagon. They say they're doing that to benefit their customers.

"I think a lot of people want to come out and enjoy dinner without having smoke in their face," says Sarah Packard, a bartender at Diamond Dave's.

Packard has been bartending for eight years. Her employer will be going smoke free starting September 5th.

"Its kinda nice to be in a smoke-free environment to work in," she says.

Customers are enjoying the new cleaner air options.

"Now you can breathe in there. I'm really happy with it," says customer Roger Harnesk.

"Being a non-smoker, I kind of like it," adds customer Dave Hogan.

"I really appreciate coming in and the air is nice and clean and you can enjoy yourself," states customer John Christoferson.

"If you listen to your customers and that's what they want, its gotta be the right move," says Don Carlyle.

These establishments are making the move without any city officials telling them to. Rockford has no smoking ordinance in place, nor has there been any talk of stopping people from lighting up.

The Machesney Park village board however, is going to take a look at banning nicotine sticks. In July, the Public Health and Safety Committee heard many think Machesney Park should be smoke free.

The committee then drafted a smoke free ordinance. The measure would ban smoking in all work and public places. If passed, the ban could take effect by July 2007. The village board will see a draft of the ordinance Monday night.


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