Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Business

April 27, 2014

Mulligan's bar returns to smoking

Bar goes back to smoking, six months after switch

Mulligan’s Sports Pub once again allows smoking, and owner Bill Bersbach wishes that wasn’t the case.

The bar uses special air filters, the kind used in manufacturing clean rooms, to try to get rid of most of the smoke, and Bersbach likes to refer to the place as the “best smoking bar in Kokomo.”

But he also tried going non-smoking for six months, and wasn’t pleased with the result.

“It wasn’t that we lost business, but we didn’t see the kind of increase we thought we’d get,” he said. “Business didn’t change a whole lot. We thought it would change, but there’s also a lot of new restaurants.”

Mulligan’s, 1134 Home Ave., has been a success since Bersbach refurbished the old Hill Top Tavern into something a whole lot more modern.

“Everything is new. We gutted [the Hill Top],” he said.

Bersbach, himself a non-smoker, said he’d prefer to have a non-smoking bar.

But Kokomo’s smoking ordinance allows bar owners the option of allowing smoking, as long as they don’t allow minors into the establishment.

Mulligan’s is 21-and-over, so it’s Bersbach’s choice. But he wishes bar owners didn’t have to choose, and risk alienating some customers

“We are really hoping the city and the county goes to a non-smoking environment, and level the playing field,” he said. “You would think, in a city as progressive as Kokomo has been, that it would be the next step.”

Kokomo passed a smoking law in 2006, after a bruising public battle. The law didn’t have enough votes to pass until council members agreed to exempt bars.

Some places which had both bar sections and family sections were forced by the 2006 law to choose. Buffalo Wild Wings decided to become a bar, excluding minors, for some time before switching to non-smoking a few years ago when it moved to Kokomo Town Center. It remains non-smoking.

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