This is a reprint from a comment made by the profile Ken Stocker. I wanted to draw attention to it because it gives a specific account of what has happened to one bar. I think it is something worth reading in spite of anyone's person, political and economic reasons aside.
On Saturday night, Oct 27, the local band I’m a member of played a gig at 4D’s Bar and Grill on Dupont Road. 4D’s was once a thriving nightclub establishment, but no longer. It is dying. And the one reason that is causing it, the smoking ban. While playing, I was observing the effects of the smoking ban first hand, and felt compelled to write about it. After our musical stint was over, I had a discussion with the owner of the establishment, Hamid Moftahedi. Hamid gave me full permission to express publicly what he had to describe, and my observations of things that had taken place. I do not know Hamid apart from being hired to play at his bar, and it was me who approached him about this issue. Let’s just say he was more than willing to let me know how he felt.
Hamid bought 4D’s from four men who started the place a year and a half ago, and whose names all began with a D, hence the name. After the purchase, renovations were made that replaces all the furniture, remodeled the décor, and added a band stage. A sound system was added, along with a dance floor and a disco lighting setup. People were coming and the place was making a profit. But on October 1, the city annexed the land area where 4D’s was located, and the smoking ban went into effect. Once that occurred, patronage went way down.
We have played there several times before, and last night the crowd size was one quarter of the typical nights. I asked the door attendant if this was the trend since the ban and he confirmed. In order to combat this, Hamid invested $40,000 dollars in building an outdoor hut behind the main building to provide a place for people to have a smoke. Most of the patrons that did come to 4D’s entered the front door, and made a bee line right out to the smoking hut, never even bothering to grab an indoor table. Hamid stated that this is not working for him however. It is not an environment where people want to order food and drinks. He said that people have commented it’s like going out for a night on the town in your garage.
And I agree with him. I went out there to see for myself. Due to construction requirements, it’s real breezy from the waist down, and your head is up in the warm pocket of air above the open frame of the wall. But guess what, the smoke is still there. The pocket of air can’t be circulated, because if it were, the heat would be lost. I observed groups of people out there where only a few of them were smoking. The rest were not, but went out to the patio in deference to their friends. So, in the end everyone is still smoking, still in a smoky atmosphere, their non smoking friends are with them, the only difference is that they are now standing in a drafty garage instead of the nice, interior where a nice décor, dance floor, and band have been provided. I ask what has been gained by this? But I do know what was lost. Hamid is out $40,000 dollars in an attempt to keep his clientele. But he has found it to have been futile. The expense of heating this outdoor room will become prohibitive in the colder months, and to boot, the people out there are not buying food or drink. Even though he did a nice job aesthetically, the open-air requirements just don’t allow for a comfortable experience.
People are going to stop going to these establishments, because the thrill is gone. With only a small group, it is not lively. When you have a room full of people, it take on a life of it’s own. People behave differently in a large gathering as opposed to a small group. It is just like the difference in watching a blockbuster movie in a crowded theatre verses seeing it in a theatre with 15 other people all spread out. The collective experience is not there. And that is what happened last night. Those that were in the room applauded for us politely, but for the most part sat calmly in their chairs. There were not enough people to get the spark going. There was back in September when we last played. Without the crowd dynamic, that experience is gone. And the few that did come, are going to soon stop as well. They are going to follow the crowds, right out of town.