No ashtrays on the bar at The Boiled Owl. Courtesy

Depending on how often you make the mistake of reading the online comments section of local news outlets, you may be wondering if it’s time for every drinker in Fort Worth to panic. This is true if you are a nonsmoker, dedicated to daily puffing in public, have a weird sex kink for the Marlboro Man, or once took a drag off something shaped like a Parliament but that was just a melted birthday candle. Apparently, musicians and bartenders should also be terrified, because the bar business as we know it will flatline. The reason for these public service announcements forecasting economic doom in our food and beverage sector? As of Monday, Mar 12, the ordinance banning smoking in bars and bingo parlors went into effect for the city of Fort Worth. 

I get it — change is often chaotic. This is also America, where people regularly exercise their right to make bombastic and outrageous predictions. Putting aside arguments about personal freedoms and owners’ rights, there is a major talking point from some angry locals to which I take exception. The sole value of bars in this town is not to provide the public a place to suck down a pack of Camels.  

Take a place like The Chat Room Pub (1263 W Magnolia Av, 817-922-8319). Every night of the week, its regulars, dubbed “Chat Rats,” cram themselves into the joint because they dig the overall vibe. The bartenders are friendly and serve a quality cocktail and/or a cold beer at a reasonable price. If you live locally, there’s a high chance you’ll be sharing a drink with your neighbors or running into interesting characters to socialize with or scoff at, depending. Yes, up until now, you were allowed to smoke inside the Chat. But that activity isn’t the true reason the bar became a go-to for the majority of its loyal patrons.

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