Owners Speaking Out

If you’re a business owner and you want to share your story, contact us to be added.

Michael DeMoss, owner of Mo Doggie’s in Fenton, attributes the closing of his 21-year old business to Michigan’s smoking ban: “Pretty soon, the only bars anywhere are going to be corporate bars you have to own five of them to make any money. Mom and pop bars, ever since the smoking ban took effect, they’re dropping like flies.”

Dan LaBrecque, (former) owner of Notke’s Family Fun Center, “a name synonymous with bowling in Battle Creek and Southwest Michigan for more than a half-century,” has stated that Michigan’s smoking ban was a contributing factor in the bowling center’s closure. The shut-down left 40 people out of work.

“It’s mostly the ban that’s caused the bar to close.” –Steve Fletcher, former owner of Fletcher’s City Saloon (Cement City). The establishment had been in business for nearly 80 years prior to the smoking ban.

“It absolutely has not been because of the economy. It used to be that summer was typically the slowest season for bars. There are so many other things to do in the summer. But now our business falls off in the winter because customers don’t like to have to stand outside in the cold weather when they smoke. It’s already starting to get colder out and our business is beginning to drop off.” –Theresa Shackleford, owner of The Village Bar in Wayne

“I want to make the decisions over my own property. If I want a non-smoking establishment, I should have that. If I want a smoking establishment, I should have that.”
–Dave Karlson, owner of the All Around Bar (Taylor). Karlson stated that sales at the establishment are down 45%, he’s had to lay off 40% of his employees, and his remaining employees have taken a voluntary pay cut.

“Business went down after the smoking ban went into effect. We had a lot of smokers – probably half of (our customers),” –Will Banfield, former owner of Banfield’s Bar & Grill in Ann Arbor. Banfield stated that his restaurant, which had been in business for 32 years, began losing business when Michigan’s smoking ban started in 2010. Mr. Banfield stated he worked at his restaurant seven days a week, and is unsure what he will do next.

“For some reason, the government is bound and determined to run bars out of business. They talk about trying to draw jobs into this state, but they are just putting more people in the unemployment line” –Steve Hosington, former owner of the Driftway Inn (Belding). The Driftway had been a successful business for 39 years, but promptly went out of business when the smoking ban was enacted.

“Yes it did affect business. Did it help as far as non-smokers coming in? I don’t know about that so much… It did have a negative effect… I should have had a choice on it. I pay for a food license and a liquor license. Why not have a smoking license?” –Rick Powell, owner of Powell’s Pub, Ypsilanti

“Since the first month [of the ban], it has slowed down. People don’t come in, and if they do, they don’t stay.” –Kelly Berndt, bartender at the Wagon Wheel Inn (West Branch)

“It’s hurt sales.” –Christina Byrd, co-owner of Flood’s Bar & Grill (Detroit). Byrd stated the ban has caused a decrease in work hours for her staff.

Lisa Anderson, who worked at Mo Doggie’s for 15 years, stated “It was a fantastic place, everyone knew each other. We were like family to each other. Many great relationships, engagements and marriages happened because of that place. Lifelong friendships. It’s a place that will be sadly missed. We’re all kind of lost right now. Nobody knows where to go.”

“I’ve been losing money ever since [the ban]… My (gross) Keno money has gone down. I was doing about $7,000 to $8,000 a week, and I’m down to about $4,000… I would have never bought the bar if I’d known about the ban. I’m not trying to be a millionaire, but I put my retirement money into the bar… This is a factory bar. People breathe toxins all day at work and come in here, and the state says they can’t light a cigarette? This is inherently wrong.”
–Boyd Cottrell, retired police officer, owner of Sporty O’Toole’s (Warren). Cottrell purchased the bar just prior to the ban.

“After 8:30-9pm, there’s no business. Before [the ban], we would be open until 1-2 a.m.” —Melissa Schaaf, manager at Hank’s Bar (Alger).

“If they ended the ban, we’d get between 25 and 30 percent of our customers back. It’s also costing more for heating and cooling. Customers are coming back in and out to smoke. The doors are being opened all the time. We’re losing air-conditioned air in the summer and heating in the winter.” –Norm Kroll, owner of The Office Lounge in Port Huron

“We were packed right up to the day that the smoking ban started. It’s clear that the ban chased away our regular customers. When we held an outdoor event my smoking customers were back but they aren’t back into the bar. They want to be able to smoke while they drink. I’ve lost my smoking clientele. Instead of coming here, where they can smoke where they drink, they’re holding house parties, where they can smoke while they drink. The smoking ban has really hurt us. We’ve even had to tap into our retirement savings to get by.” –Pam Lezotte, owner of Buster’s Place in Trenton

“Having been a landlord for 18 years, I’ve met with hundreds of prospective tenants. During that time, exactly one has declined to rent from me because I allow smoking in my buildings. I submit that the anti-smokers are a small radical fringe group, and not representative of the true feelings of Michiganders in general.” –Scott Ewing, Owner/Manager of Ewing Properties, Lawton, MI

“I used to work at a place that was strictly NON-smoking before the ban. When the ban passed, even this place lost money, and workers have since been let go. What was once the only non smoking restaurant in town was suddenly transformed into one of many, and as a result people stopped coming.”
–Anonymous, Escanaba, MI

“The promises they made in Lansing, I’m not seeing that.”–Jeff Veach, owner of Veach’s Office Bar (Jackson), on promises made that the ban would increase customers. Mr. Veach stated there are now times when the bar is completely empty, sales are down 30%, and he has seen a drop in his customer base since the ban took effect.
UPDATE: Unfortunately, Mr. Veach lost his business shortly after making this statement.

“It’s affected us. We have a lot of upset customers.” –Sharry Albaugh, bartender at Cedar Bar (Lupton)