I got the word last night. Smoking will be prohibited in the Chart Room as of August 1.
A disgrace. A sad decision.
The determination does not affect me. I had to give up smoking 8 weeks ago. My last cigarette has been smoked. But to those who enjoy a cigarette with a drink, my heart goes out.
I am not sure why. I suspect someone might have complained about the smoking. Makes me laugh. A tourist comes in one or two times. The local regulars there almost every night. A tourist is offended by the smoking. He or she probably complained to management.
Management assumes it made a wise decision. I do not.
Business will suffer. An inevitable result.
I had a similar experience. Many months ago at Berlin’s. I went for dinner once a week. Pricey, but good. Also permitted smoking. They had been grandfathered in before the law prohibiting smoking where food was served had passed.
Berlin’s had the best filtration system. Even cigar smoking permitted. Berlin’s had been a cigar smoking bar for years. Affected no one. Impossible to smell smoke from any source. Clothes smelled clean at the end of the evening.
A group bought the place. Immediately outlawed smoking. I told the bartenders I would not be returning. My choice as the customer, the one spending the money.
I stayed away a month. Missed the ambiance of the place, the good food, and Bria Ansara singing on the weekend.
Parking was always free. The night I returned, the attendant asked for $20. I asked if he was crazy. I had been doing business there for years. He knew me. Nothing he could do. It was the new rule.
That did it! I left. First no smoking, now $20 to park. Berlin’s was not the only good restaurant in Key West.
I later was speaking to some one who worked at Berlin’s. He told me in the first 2 months of the no smoking rule, bartender tips were down 30 percent.
Which brings me back to the Chart Room. I shall continue going. Even if I were still smoking and offended. The history of the room calls me to it. The place unique.
The Chart Room however will lose business. No question about it.
My good friend David Wolkowsky has been dead less than a year. David conceived of and constructed the Pier House. It opened in 1967. The Chart Room 1968.
Locals at the time told David the hotel needed a place to drink. David agreed. A quick fix. Took out a first floor bedroom, added a mahogany bar, began serving alcohol.
In 1967, no one was famous and drinking was a sport. Soon certain locals were nightly customers or working there. Besides David, Mel Fisher, Jim Croce, Che Kohn, , Bob Marley, Mr. Bojangles, Panamah Pete, Tennessee Williams and Geoff Chapman. In later years, add Louis Petrone.
My too late admonition to the Pier House: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The ghosts of the Chart Room will gather and share tears the evening of August 1. An important part of Key West, steeped in history, diminished. No smoking! Wow!
Enjoy your day!