Dive, dive, dive with me
It’s generally impossible to post anything smoking-ban related on the forums (or this slog, for that matter) without inspiring fruitless, antagonistic barbs from someone on either side of the argument. Let’s stop that, shall we?
Yes, it’s too early to measure the positive or negative financial impact of the ban on bar sales and employee tips. Yes, some bars seem to be thriving and will continue to do so. Yes, any dip in sales may be mercifully brief. However, this is a terrible time of year to get hit with a loss of income in the bar business. Any service industry worker will tell you that the extra income accumulated in December cushions the predictable blow when business slows in January.
Unless you frequent blue collar watering holes or dive cocktail lounges outside of Capitol Hill or Belltown, you can’t possibly understand how this is impacting some of this city’s historical bars during the holiday season. My most beloved cocktail haunts are in Ballard and other northern Seattle neighborhoods. I’m seeing first hand what’s happening at places like the Moon Temple, the Fremont Dock and the Tin Hat (all of which have been in business for more than 20 years, some as many as 50). Unsurprisingly, Ballard’s Smoke Shop is suffering from a particularly alarming drop in business. In effort to counteract this depressing trend, myself and my fellow dive bar devotees in BYSUK have designated the Smoke Shop as our Thursday night meeting spot for the next several weeks. When we were there last week, there were only 3 other customers bellied up to the bar. We’re a fiesty, thirsty bunch, but even our livers and wallets have their limits.
It doesn’t matter if you voted for or against the ban. If you harbor any affection for Seattle’s few remaining dive bars, please make an effort to patronize your favorite one as much as possible—especially over the next few weeks. Industry veterans like Darlene Kaiser are counting on it.