As new residents and businesses continue to move to Nashville at a record pace, the number of establishments where smoking is allowed has continued to decrease.
Starting Monday, the 42-year-old Gold Rush Restaurant and Bar on Elliston Place temporarily closed to begin the process of converting to a non-smoking establishment. Renovations are underway to eliminate the effects of more than 40 years of cigarette smoke. The bar is one of only a few left in Nashville that allows smoking.
“We needed to make a change,” said Brian Gruber, Operator of Gold Rush. “Nashville is changing. We decided to make a change to go with what’s happening all over town.”
Gruber said the plan was to re-open in about 2 weeks. The inside of the restaurant will be redone, and the menu will be updated, as well. There will still be a porch in the back of the restaurant where customers can smoke, but smoking will not be allowed inside.
“We appreciate our old customers,” said Gruber. “We look forward to creating new customers while keeping the old customers.”
The change came as Metro Council voted last week to ban smoking at Ascend Amphitheater starting on July 1.
Across the city, more bars and restaurants have opted to go smoke-free in an effort to reduce the effects of secondhand smoke and improve customer’s health.
Metro Council Member Robert Swope, who represents the 4th district, voted against the smoking ban at Ascend Amphitheater, and said smokers have fewer places to go.
“I think political correctness has gone too far,” said Swope. “For the past 20 years, I’ve been a third class citizen because I smoke a Marlboro.”
When the Non-Smoker Protection Act became state law in 2007, smoking was prohibited in all enclosed places. To be exempt, an establishment must only allow access to people who are 21 or older at all times.
Swope said finding a balance between smokers’ and non-smokers’ rights is a challenge, but thought individual business owners should be able to decide if they want to be smoke-free.
“If I invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a restaurant, and I don’t have a problem with people smoking, then I think we should allow that to happen,” said Swope.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2012, 30 of the 50 largest United States cities have state or local laws banning smoking in workplaces, restaurants and bars.