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American Express says smoking ban will attract more customers

04 November 2004
American Express says smoking ban will attract more customers

Restaurants would see more customers come through their doors if a ban on smoking in the workplace were introduced, according to a survey by American Express Establishment Services.

The survey of members of the public attending the Taste of London 2004 culinary festival this September at Somerset House, London, found nearly half (47%) would eat out more often if there were a smoking ban.

Only 17% of those quizzed by American Express believed they would dine out less frequently because a restaurant was smoke-free.

The survey results were backed up by experiences of two North-west restaurants that have banned smoking and are supporting Caterer's Stub out Smoking campaign.

Michelle Butterworth, owner of Shelly's restaurant in Warrington, Cheshire, wasn't surprised. "I haven't heard anyone complain about not being able to smoke since opening 10 weeks ago," she said. "If you offer comfortable surroundings, fine wine, and good food, in an environment where people can have a conversation, they don't even miss it."

Oz Munir, co-owner of the Rose of Kashmir Balti restaurant in Stafford, which reopened as a no-smoking venue after an August refurbishment, was equally emphatic. "There's no doubt that we lost a few regular customers as a result, but what people forget are all the new customers you win."

The survey also found…

  • 58% of those polled were eating out more than a year before.
  • Nearly half (47%) preferred to pay by debit or credit card.
  • A third (37%) hated automatic service charges.
  • Nearly a quarter (23%) got upset over hidden costs.
  • 30% said poor service was a pet hate.

Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 4 November 2004

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