Welcome to (almost) smoke-free Tennessee. Today's the day restaurants either have to kick the habit, restrict entry to folks 21 and up or institute a membership policy, among a few loopholes.
Anyone who thinks smoke-free dining will be the death of local restaurants should ask Wendy Holcomb Burch, co-owner of F. Scott's restaurant, which banned smoking from its elegant dining room and bar three years ago. "Our business has increased," Burch says. "We have customers daily thanking us for going non-smoking."
Not everyone sees it that way, of course, so there's bound to be some fuming among diners and restaurateurs alike. That wasn't the case at Neely's Bar-B-Que this morning when I stopped in for lunch. They just had a simple sign affixed to the doors—with a cigarette and a line through it.
Meanwhile, this morning the Food Protection Division at the Metro Public Health Department was preparing for a day of phone calls. If you have questions about the new rule, call their Smoke-Free Workplace Hotline at 340-2240.
And if you encounter any interesting opinions, complaints or altercations relating to the Tennessee Non-Smoker Protection Act in these first first days, please report back to Bites. We're waiting with bated—and minty—breath.