No ifs, ands or butts

Published 8:24 am Wednesday, December 1, 2010

FRANKLIN — A year after Virginia gave restaurants the option to go smoke-free or provide a separate room for smokers, restaurants in Western Tidewater have adapted.

Fred’s restaurant at 107 S. Main St. in downtown Franklin is now smoke-free but provides an option for smokers.

“We have a patio that serves pretty good for that purpose, although it’s a little chilly in the winter,” said waitress Darla Howell. “They still have a place to go.”

Prior to the law going into effect on Dec. 1, 2009, Fred’s allowed smoking. Some said the new law would hurt the restaurant’s business, Howell said.

“So far, so good. Our patio really helps us,” she said. “We’ve actually gained more (business) from non-smokers.”

The law gave restaurants the option to create separate smoking and nonsmoking areas as long as they are structurally separated and separately vented. The law also requires that the nonsmoking room have one outside entrance.

That’s what Regina Singh opted to do.

The owner of Midway Restaurant at 35242 General Mahone Blvd., Ivor, established a room for smokers.

“We have a separate room where people can smoke, Singh said. “We had it approved by the health inspector.”

Erna Bolo, owner of Pino’s Pizza at 23319 Jerusalem Road, Courtland, didn’t have that option.

“I didn’t have the money to do it,” Bolo said. “I couldn’t afford it.”

Pino’s is now smoke-free.

At Joe’s Pizza and Pasta Palace at 1217 Carrsville Highway, the new law was a non-issue. The restaurant has been smoke-free for years.

“For as long as I’ve been here—that’s going on four years—it’s been that way,” said waitress Mary Flowers. “We have little ash trays outside.”