To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Smoking Back at DC's Aroma Bar

In a victory against the Nanny State, patrons are again allowed to smoke at DC's Aroma, a quiet hip bar in Cleveland Park. That was my favorite watering hole to park up to, ask awesome bartender Krishna which martini I should drink, light up and read the City Paper. I haven't been back since the ban, and neither have a lot of their other customers.

Alas, it took Aroma to almost go out of business to get the exemption. From Wa Post's Going Out Gurus:
A friend and I went to Aroma last night to say goodbye to longtime bartender Krishna Ramsundar, and as we walked in, we took in the aroma. It wasn't because we were caught up in the moment -- it was because we smelled the fragrant odor of burning tobacco. Ashtrays were scattered across the bar, a guy lit up a celebratory cigar and, later, one man wandered in while puffing away on a pipe.

For a moment, we felt like we were in some 2006 bizarro world. Was this the patrons' way of saying goodbye to Krishna, a bartender who likes the occasional smoke break while working? Was this a critical mass-style protest against the city-wide smoking ban?

Hardly. All the puffing away was completely legal, because Aroma is the first D.C. bar to receive a hardship exemption from the city's Department of Health.

In the six months after the smoking ban began, Aroma's owners say, business fell at least 20 percent from the year before. "Aroma was set up as a cigar bar, and [smoking] was pretty core to its identity," explains Curt Large, the chief operating officer of Bedrock Management, Aroma's parent company. Once smokers could no longer enjoy a cigar or cigarette with their cocktails or cognac, he says, they simply stopped coming.

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