It's Black Wednesday in the Twin Cities...
Major downtown counties in Minneapolis and Saint Paul are imposing new rules for bars. Yes, the smoking ban has crept in to the Twin Cities, and it starts tomorrow. Some places it’s midnight, and in others the ban starts with the new business day at seven in the morning.
Cigarettes, either, provided they are in the right place.
Smoking bans take hold in bars and restaurants in Hennepin and Ramsey counties Thursday, and a number of establishments in Minneapolis will be marking the end of their indoor-smoking freedoms not with funerals -- but with blowouts.
"Smoke Your Brains Out!" reads an advertisement for Kieran's Irish Pub in downtown Minneapolis. There, patrons will find a coffin with a man-sized cigarette inside.
No, it's not real.
Stub & Herb's, at Oak St. and Washington Av. in Minneapolis, is expected to host a man inside a cigarette -- well, a costume, at least, said Ryan Pacyga, an attorney for the bar.
Stub & Herb's was among six bars and clubs that sued to halt the bans. A temporary injunction was denied. An appeal is anticipated, Pacyga said, but in the meantime, the establishments plan to comply with the new rules.
But tonight, cigarette girls will be giving away smokes, he said.
"This isn't going to be a mourning thing," he said. "It is going to be a festive thing."
Civic boosters in Minneapolis hope to carry that festive atmosphere into the first day of the ban, with a series of events designed to encourage patronage of local bars and restaurants that will be smoke-free Thursday.
"We're taking a situation and trying to help our restaurants and nightlife move forward," said Karyn Gruenberg, vice president of marketing for the Greater Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association.
Mayor R.T. Rybak will be part of the effort, boarding a party bus at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Bryant-Lake Bowl at 810 W. Lake St. After several stops, the bus tour will conclude at the Fine Line Music Cafe, 318 1st Av. S. for a party with pop-rock musician Tim Mahoney.
The mayor said it's time for those who supported the ban to put up and drink up -- responsibly. "It's their civic obligation to put out their cigarettes and go out and have a beer and a burger," Rybak said, "especially at a small place where they were afraid to go because they'd come home smelling like smoke."
Dammit. It’s not even that I smoke, cause I really don’t very often, but what the hell is a bar for if not t smoke and drink? It’s peanut butter and jelly. It’s like Abbot and Costello. It’s like sex and violence. They just go together. Okay, I’m done…