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Posted on Tue, May 11, 2010 : 10 a.m.

Smoking ban: the impact on restaurant reviews

By Edward Vielmetti

Michigan has banned smoking in restaurants and bar, which means some bars and restaurants noted for being smoky have a need to attract new customers, bring back old customers that have left because the place was too smoky, or find ways to accommodate their regulars who are used to smoking.

Here's a list of some new reviews, gathered from the Internet, showing some reactions to the environment in newly smoke-free places around town that were previously noted for their smoky atmosphere.


Fraser's Pub is a neighborhood pub on Packard Street. Among other things it was known for how smoky it was, with reviews on Yelp noting even that it had a cigarette machine.

The restaurant was repainted and cleaned in anticipation of the smoking ban.

Alice Ralph: "We settled in with a friend (a former smoker) and felt an unfamiliar ease from breathing air minus smoke. Some other "regulars" were there, but suddenly we realized that at the very next table were neighbors that we had never seen at Fraser's. That made a total of five people we knew, who chose to try a neighborhood business that night, mainly because of the ban on smoking. It's as if Fraser's is making new friends and keeping the old. We are looking forward to more of that in our neighborhood and all around town."

John Hritz: "First trip to the newly non-smoking Fraser's was cool. We really liked the thin crust Pub Pizza."


Julie Weatherbee: "Knights is packed! And not smoky!!!!! Yay!"

Two reviews of Knight's on Yelp, from before and after the smoking ban, are illustrative.

Tyler B, writing on May 6: "But that doesn't give you any sense of what Knights is about. It's a steakhouse. Not a place that serves steak. Steakhouse. The drinks are strong and the meat is tasty. If you're looking for something else, you're in the wrong place. And hey, Michigan is smoke free now, so the reviewers who didn't like that aspect, congrats. You've lessened my Scorsese analogy."

Michael F, writing on April 2, 2010, before the ban: " have to wade through the smokers to get to non-smoking, so be prepared to lose your appetite if you object to smoke, and to smell like cigarette and cigar smoke until you can wash your hair and burn your clothing."


Ashley's on State Street is taking the smoking ban in stride with its Smoke-Free Smoked Beer Fest. It is serving many varieties of smoked beers, including Stone’s Smoked Porter, Original Gravity’s 440 Pepper Smoker, New Holland’s Charkoota Smoked Rye Doppelbock, Schlenkerla Fastenbier and more.

Smoked beers are produced with malt that has been roasted over an open flame, which imparts a smokiness which The British Guide to German Beer says is reminiscent of Lapsang Souchong tea.

Royal Oak: Royal Canadian Legion Maple Leaf Post-84

Royal Canadian Legion Maple Leaf Post-84 in Royal Oak, about 45 minutes northeast of Ann Arbor, is organizing an effort to exempt private veteran's clubs from the smoking ban.

The view from afar

Congrats to Michigan, writes Erich from SmokeFree Wisconsin. "Great work to the all the advocates in Michigan. Your work will make an impact on the future generations!"

Edward Vielmetti no longer has to enjoy second hand smoke while having breakfast at the Fleetwood Diner. Contact him at 734-330-2465.