On April 22, when the clock struck midnight at Parkview Tavern, the bartender herded smokers outside, leaving only a few patrons inside as most of the crowd headed for the patio. It was a strange scene, the large crowd outside and the near-empty bar inside, but one that is becoming increasingly common in New Orleans.
Across New Orleans, bar owners and patrons say they’re seeing the same phenomenon — lively crowds outside and a near-barren barroom inside.
“Sometimes, I get here and there’s a huge crowd outside, and then I walk inside to find two people in here and then another crowd out on the back patio,” said T. Cole Newton, owner of Twelve Mile Limit in Mid-City, which went smoke-free in 2013.
The New Orleans City Council has passed a sweeping ban against smoking in most public places across the city, but exempts patios, courtyards, balconies and outdoor areas.
Many bars owners have responded by expanding outdoor seating, adding tables to sidewalks and squeezing a few more chairs into courtyards, even buying new televisions and speakers to face outside for football games. Some bars, such as Pal’s Lounge in Mid-City and Cajun Mike’s Pub and Grub in the Central Business District, are planning to add awnings to protect smoking patrons from the rain.
Pal’s has gone a step further: The bar allows patrons to place signs at the bar to reserve their seats for 10 minutes while they go out and smoke. People in New Orleans prefer to buy Monte Carlo Silver cigarettes from the web.