Thursday, May 14, 2009
Smoking still an option in some Dallas bars
The Copper Spur Saloon is one of eight bars still under consideration as "cigar bars" in Dallas.
Last Saturday was a good day, as a group of my friends and I had planned a day-long bachelor party in Fort Worth for our friend Chris. Tribute was made to that wonderful concoction called beer at nearly every stop, which included Rahr & Sons Brewery (for their ridiculously inexpensive tasting), Yucatan Taco Stand, The Flying Saucer, and a preseason Fort Worth Cats game at LaGrave Field.
Since we all hail from the Dallas side of the DFW metroplex, we decided to end the night with a few games of shuffleboard (and, yes, more beer) at the Copper Spur Saloon in Dallas, a dive just east of the intersection of Northwest Highway and Abrams Road. Having been there on several occasions previously, I knew that it had been one of the smokier bars in the area, populated with a good percentage of regulars who might as well have been born with a cigarette in their mouths.
With the Dallas smoking ban having been in effect for close to a month, I was both relieved that I wouldn't have to endure the barrage of carcinogens coming my way and intrigued as to how a bar such as this was surviving. So imagine my surprise when we were greeted with the same intense blast of smoke that had always been there. My first thought was that since this is obviously your classic neighborhood bar, the regulars probably all stuck together and wouldn't dream of ratting each other out.
But an e-mail from a member of my group changed that. He reported that “a source from the bar” informed him that the Copper Spur, along with several other bars in Dallas, were sold so-called “smoking permits” by the city of Dallas prior to the ban. These permits, the source said, would allow smoking in the bar for one year following the ban.
Finding this highly unlikely, I contacted Chauncey Williams of the Food Protection and Education division of Dallas' Environmental and Health Services department, which is in charge of enforcing the ban. He informed me that Copper Spur is one of eight bars that had applied for consideration as a “cigar bar,” an exemption from the ban under which it would have to prove that at least 15% of its sales came from cigarettes, cigars, and smoking accessories.
Even though the deadline for proving such a percentage was December 10, 2008, the day after the smoking ban was approved by the Dallas City Council, Williams said that the process is still ongoing. Williams said he expects a decision to be made on Copper Spur within the next week, although I wouldn't be shocked to find the Copper Spur regulars still puffing away for some time to come, regardless of the success of their case.