Thursday, February 14, 2008

WI - The Last Bastion of Smoke Filled Bars

Some good friends of ours invited us to the Northwoods of Wisconsin on a snowmobiling trip. What a blast.

But one of the things I've enjoyed about it most (been here since Saturday the 9th, leaving tomorrow) has been blasting on the snowmobiles (or "sleds", as the locals call them) to the different little small town restaurants and taverns where the bartenders and locals are just as friendly and talkative as any group of people I've met. And they all, without exception, have been smoke friendly, the vast majority are cigar friendly. I cannot tell you how much I've enjoyed that. Having lived in IL for so long, and with the recent BS the entire Chicagoland area has experienced with these smoking bans, I've forgotten what joy it is to sit in a tavern with a group of friends, yukking it up, jukebox playing, sipping a bottled beer and smoking a cigar. JG&AH is about the only place anymore that happens for me. Its been fantastic little bonus to an already fun trip.

But of course, the anti-smoking Nazis are marching in lockstep. They've already marched in and conquered IL. Before that, they marched into the state capital of MN and conquered that territory as well. WI has become the 21st century Stalingrad, with the Tavern League of Wisconsin fighting like snipers in the tall buildings to keep the anti-smoking Nazis out of their establishments once and for all. The battle is still raging, and resistance in the conquered territories fights on. See blogger David Drake's comments about the "jackbooted thugs" against smoking in bars and restaurants and the impact on business in his state of MN (from October, a few days after the ban passed there). I share a lot of his passion about this topic, as many of you frequent patrons of JG&AH know (see also, the blog "Ban The Ban" here).

I tried to go onto the Fresh Air Minnesota Website that David links to and post this comment amongst the many the Goosesteppers have posted in fav0r:

I want to thank the MN governor and legislature for signing this intrusive, nanny-stated law into existence. I used to enjoy sitting at a bar (owned by a private citizen) and smoking a cigar. I can't anymore, thanks to people like yourselves. Smoking is a legal activity enjoyed by educated adults who are well aware of the risks. If the public truly is craving smoke free establishments, then the FREE MARKET will accommodate their demand. In fact, irrespective of legislation, many establishments have decided to go smoke-free without your intrusive, busy body mandates.

I think I've just enjoyed my last vacation in WI where I've had the now rare luxury of being able to smoke a cigar in certain taverns where the owner has made the business decision to allow it. It has been fun, something I haven't been able to enjoy in MN or IL. I'm sure you busybodies will have that freedom wiped out in WI next year when we come back.


Appearantly, the site is no longer taking comments. The last I had heard from one of the locals was that the ban didn't have much chance of passing and the only solid report I could get to verify that was WPR's report of January 22nd. I haven't been able to verify this, but the locals that we spoke to in the taverns told us that, by legislative procedure, if the measure is defeated in a vote it cannot be reintroduced for another five years. So, hopefully, this offensive goosestep into Wisconsin will be halted at the border of MN and WI and I can enjoy the same type of vacation next year that I did this year.

More, from the Ban the Ban WI blog (bold emphasis mine):

private businesses are not “public” places, in the legal sense of the word. No one is forcing anyone to go into a bar, cafe, or restaurant that allows smoking. Ban the Ban Wisconsin fully supports the banning of smoking on truly public property - property that is owned by the taxpayers.

Add to that, no one is forcing anyone to WORK in a bar, cafe or restaurant that allows smoking.

Again, long live the resistance.


Joey at Ban the Ban linked to us. Thanks, Joey, keep fighting for those of us who want to come and enjoy the luxury of smoking in WI when on vacation in your state.

One of the things that has always perplexed me about the Chicago, and now IL, smoking ban is: we know that the ban will have negative business ramifications for restaurant and bar owners.... why then, do the proprietors here grab their ankles so willingly and accept it?

I'm not sure if I've shared this with the patrons of JG&AH, but my bother-in-law owns three restaurants in the Chicagoland area. To protect his identity, we'll call him "Savino".

Savino is a newly minted US citizen (came here from the town of Bari at the age of 5). As a business owner, he's a pretty hard-core Republican. So, when the ban was launched, he had a very fatalistic attitude about it. I had a chance to ask him about this at our Christmas dinner.

"Owners don't fight the ban because their employees and managers are so much in favor of it," he said.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

"Dude," I said, showing my Floridian side, "are you in business for your employees or for what makes the most you the most successful in your investment?"

I went on to tell Savino that his business is dependent upon the need of his customers, not what his employees want. Savino didn't go into business to create jobs for his employees. He went into business, works 14 hour days, and puts his mortgage on the line to turn a profit and build a future for his family. Not make his employees happy. This is the kind of entitlement mentality that I expect from labor unions, not from businessmen who realize that their ultimate responsibility is to turn a profit, not ensure the comfort of their employees.

If Savino's employees don't like the smoke in his restaurants, then they should don the green apron of Starbucks. Or, join the wait staff of one of the many establishments that, again, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, have made the business decision to tap into the market of non-smokers that what a smoke-free environment.

To recap, I'm not going to make my business decisions on what makes my employees happy. I'm going to make my business decisions based on what turns the most profit.

I don't go into business to make people happy, I go into business to make a profit. If you work for me and you are not on that same wavelength, then we need to part ways. Deal with it.