Despite warnings to the contrary, restaurants did nicely in Clayton in the first year of the city’s smoking ban.
“The Clayton scene is alive and well and, most importantly, more healthy, than it has ever been,” said Mayor Linda Goldstein, who advocated the ban to protect public health. Sales tax revenue from restaurants is up slightly, and the number of restaurants is increasing, Goldstein said.
The ban on smoking in restaurants and other public places went into effect July 1, 2010.
City officials said that from July 2009 through April 2010, the city took in $1,677,269 in sales tax revenue from restaurants. From July 2010 through April 2011, the restaurants collected $1,684,029 in sales taxes, an increase of about $7,000.
Clayton’s ban was followed by St. Louis County and city of St. Louis bans that went into effect on Jan. 2, 2011. Both the city and county bans include exemptions for establishments that do not sell much food.
Frank Schmitz and some other Clayton restaurant owners initially had opposed Clayton’s ban. They had worried it could force them out of business if nearby municipalities did not enact bans.
He said his BARcelona bar lost 20 percent of its business before the countywide ban went into effect.
But it then bounced back.
Schmitz said that he believed customers enjoy the smoke-free restaurants.
“By allowing patrons to smoke on the sidewalk and sidewalk dining areas as well as on the back deck satisfies the need of our bar customers,” Schmitz said, adding that he would oppose banning smoking on sidewalks and on sidewalk dining areas.
Goldstein noted that the revenue stayed stable in Clayton despite the ongoing economic downturn throughout the country. Although Clayton restaurants have had to confront that and some have closed in the weak economy, the smoking ban has been “a nonfactor,” Goldstein said.
Even though some restaurants in Clayton did close, new ones opened in all but one of those same spots.