- The Washington Times - Monday, January 1, 2007

Max Page’s days of enjoying a smoke at the Capital Grille bar are nearly over.

The District will put its smoke-free workplace law into effect tomorrow, joining New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Miami.

“It’s silly,” said Mr. Page, a deputy director for the Newseum, an interactive museum of news that is moving from Arlington to the District. “The marketplace should be the decider of these issues. It shouldn’t be legislated.”

Mr. Page’s office is above the Capital Grille on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest. “A lot people like to come down here for happy hour. It’s not going to be the same.”

The city’s legacy restaurants are bracing for swift change after decades of allowing diners to light up after a meal. Newer establishments are more amenable to legislating a smoke-free environment.

Biddy Mulligans, in the Jurys Washington Hotel in Dupont Circle, is known for its Emerald Isle decor and Guinness pints. Many regulars smoke while they have a drink and gaze from the window overlooking the neighborhood.

“Initially, we are going to see some losses. Our regulars have told me that once the smoking ban is in effect, they are going to go to Starbucks and sit outside and smoke,” said Peter Hilary, regional vice president of Jurys Doyle Hotel Group. “We need a place for them, so we’re building the outdoor patio.”

Although outdoor smoking hasn’t been outlawed, restaurants need permits to place chairs and tables on the sidewalk.

The smoking ban also includes exemptions for hotel rooms, retail tobacco outlets and cigar bars, and provides a waiver for businesses that demonstrate a “significant negative impact.”

The Hawk ‘n’ Dove bar on Capitol Hill and the Old Ebbitt Grill in the heart of the District are making modest preparations.

“I personally like it, but I don’t think our customers are going to like it,” said Paul Meagher, manager of the Hawk ‘n’ Dove for more than 10 years. “But we have a good neighborhood crowd. We’ll survive.”

He said the ban persuaded one patron to kick the tobacco habit. “He said he was going to have to stop smoking here, so he may as well quit,” Mr. Meagher said.

At Old Ebbitt Grill, manager Kyle Gaffney said the restaurant is gearing up for an onslaught of cigarette butts on the sidewalk.

“We have a lot smokers, so we’re asking staff to come in early so they can clear up the butts that are going to pile up outside, but that’s about it,” Mr. Gaffney said. “We’ve enjoyed our smoking run, but the laws are changing, and we’ll have to abide.”

At trendy spots such as Urbana Restaurant and Wine Bar in Dupont Circle, the effects of the ban are not so meaningful. Smoking already is prohibited inside the subterranean restaurant with an ambiance modeled after a modern-day Tuscan wine cellar.

“I don’t think the smoking ban is affecting us at all. Our clientele are not the type who want smoke around them,” said Kate Holt, a manager at Urbana.

Smoking in CityZen has not been an option since it opened in September 2004. Manager Mark Politzer said secondhand smoke does not mesh well with the restaurant’s modern American cuisine.

“Smoking can affect the quality of the food and the wine,” he said. “We’ve always been smoke-free.”

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