As of Monday for A&W and Kentucky Fried Chicken, and June 1 for Pizza Hut, three local restaurants have adopted no-smoking policies, joining an increasing number of businesses that are “butting out” in the region.
“It’s been very good,” said Barb Flinders, co-owner of A&W, adding there’s been no apparent loss in business yet.
“In fact, it’s up. We have our normal coffee crowd and some new people as well,” Flinders remarked.
She said they decided to go smoke-free because it seemed inevitable every restaurant would be doing so eventually, given the push for municipal bylaws banning smoking in all enclosed public places as well as the intensified information campaign promoted by the Northwestern Health Unit this year.
“I’ve been thinking about it for about a year,” said KFC owner Don Murray. “Everybody else is trying it out, so it’s a good time to do it.”
Murray also noted he doesn’t feel it will adversely affect business there much. “Everybody else is doing it at the same time,” he remarked, adding much of his business traditionally has been takeout anyway.
While Pizza Hut manager Brenda Kellar could not be reached for comment before press time, she did offer a few comments last month, shortly after announcing her restaurant was going smoke-free.
“We think it’s going to help our business. Sometimes we have a section that isn’t being used because non-smokers don’t want to sit in the smoking areas,” she noted.
She added the change in policy was sparked by word that other businesses were going to try to go smoke-free, too.
The restaurant had posted signs in mid-May to let customers know the change would take place. And the policy is expected to be permanent.
“We’re going to try it out. We’ve got it set in our minds that this will work,” Kellar said at the time. “I don’t think it’s going to hurt us at all.”
Meanwhile, the downtown location of Robin’s Donuts has seen change somewhat since going smoke-free for a six-month trial basis on May 13, said Guy Donald-son, who owns both local locations here with his wife, Kelly Spicer.
“It’s going as well as expected, if not better,” he noted Tuesday. “We lost a few people, we gained a few people, and now, we’re starting to get a handle on it.”
Donaldson said he was surprised to see, on average, that customers were spending more money.
“The daytime traffic is up. Lunch sales and the doughnut sales are up. And the takeout has increased,” he said, adding an extensive advertising campaign definitely has helped bring in new customers.
The Robin’s Donuts location on King’s Highway in the west end has been smoke-free since it opened. McDonald’s Restaurant and Dairy Queen here already have been smoke-free for several years.