Atlanta restaurants not impressed by council's smoking ban incentive

20 October 2000
Atlanta restaurants not impressed by council's smoking ban incentive

Restaurateurs in the US city of Atlanta have reacted with anger and bewilderment to a council rule aimed at persuading them to ban smoking.

The rule, approved by Atlanta City Council, offers restaurants a three-year, 20% discount on annual business licence fees if they agree to a ban.

Aimie Moran, events organiser at the city's Fratelli di Napoli restaurant, dismissed the concept.

She said: "Around 40% of our customers are smokers. I cannot imagine us ever banning this group of people."

Fred Fejeune, manager of the 175-seat Ruth's Chris Steak House, endorsed her view. "This is something we certainly would not be willing to go along with for fear of alienating a proportion of our customers," he said.

Karen Wantuck, marketing director of the 600-seat Anthony's, said her restaurant would, at best, make a saving of around $1,000 (£600) a year if it signed up for the discount.

She said: "We, and all the Atlanta restaurants I know, are in the dark about it. The council has not approached us."

Ralph Bilbrey, director of membership for the 2,400-member Georgian Hospitality & Travel Association, added: "This is an economic incentive to encourage more restaurants to become non-smoking. We are not anticipating everyone will join."

An estimated one third of the 1,914 restaurants in Atlanta, Georgia, already operate non-smoking policies.

by Lucia Cockcroft

Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 19-25 October 2000

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