In the wake of last week’s column (“Smoke Gets in Your ‘I’s”), the thought occurred to me (via the suggestion of my editor) that maybe Fort Worth is in fact coming around to the idea of banning smoking from all public establishments, thereby putting our city’s nightlife scene in the same proverbial neighborhood as Dallas, Austin, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and El Paso. That’s right. Even El Paso doesn’t allow smoking in bars. Nor does Houston, nor San Antonio, nor most of the other Texan metropolises everyone here seems to love to hate. So I called Fort Worth city hall to find out if a comprehensive smoking ordinance was in the works.
I spoke with Elmer DePaula, superintendent of code compliance for the city’s consumer health division, who told me that there were no indicators that people wanted a change in the smoking ordinance beyond the one made in 2007, which banned smoking in restaurants. Passage of the current ordinance, he said, was driven by a group of restaurant owners, concerned citizens, and representatives from the American Heart and American Lung associations who provided input to city council. “Generally speaking,” he said, “it’s a public-interest thing.”
I guess I’m not really surprised. It’s one thing to motivate yourself and others to get tobacco smoke out of the places where your family goes to eat chicken fingers and overdone steaks, but since your kids (the little ones, anyway) don’t normally tag along when you’re out just to get hammered, nicotine smog is largely an inconvenience and not enough of one, apparently, to make people organize and pester the city council.
However, nonsmokers can cross their fingers and hope for a statewide ban. Earlier this year, State Rep. Myra Crownover from Denton and State Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston introduced a bill banning smoking from public places, but it got snuffed out in the Senate. This is the fourth time in as many regular sessions that anti-smoking efforts have been crushed.
So there you go. If you want smoking out of bars, you’ll have to do more than gripe on Yelp. Maybe you can get together with like-minded people and talk about it over drinks. –– Steve Steward
I swear I don’t really care what a bar’s website looks like. As long as the business hours and address are easy to find, what more do you need to know? Sure, a menu helps, but if you can read it on a laptop screen, you can read it on a laminated piece of cardboard.
Recently, I made the mistake of trusting the information listed on a couple of bars’ webpages and ended up being that dolt who shows up when the establishment is closed, to hopelessly peer through tinted glass at stacked chairs and empty rooms. Of course, I could call ahead, but why should I have to? If your bar’s hours change in the physical realm, the virtual realm should reflect the change. Why even have a webpage if it’s going to be wrong?
As a case in point, I drove all the way to North Fort Worth to get lunch and a beer at a place called Blue 32 Sports Bar and Grill. I went at lunchtime because the website said the place was open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Or at least the part of the page (the bottom, under a heading that reads “OPENING HOURS”) that I saw did. When I arrived, I found a huge, spiffy bar with a nice big patio fronted by an empty parking lot, because Blue 32 doesn’t actually open until 3 on Tuesdays, according to a sign on the front door. Figuring I’d misread the site, I looked it up again. Indeed, in the middle of the homepage, between some Getty images of Heineken bottles and French fries was a blue rectangle claiming that the bar was open weekdays from 5 to 7 p.m. I wasn’t about to come back at 3 only to find I was still two hours early and that I had made two trips around 820 in one day just to drink a beer at a sports bar. Out of curiosity, I looked up the joint’s Facebook page. There I learned that Blue 32 opens at 4 p.m. I went home and drank beer on my couch, because that place is open 24/7. –– S.S.
Contact Last Call at email@example.com.