Sad, Sad Stories from the Smoke-Free Bar Scene

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Nearly three weeks after Ohio enacted its smoke-free law at nightclubs and bars, nicotine addicts at one gay Cleveland bar are still fuming like freshly lit cigarettes over the Case of the No-Show Pot Patrol. The Hawk (11217 Detroit Ave., 216-521-5443) dutifully opened its new, $7,000 outdoor-smoking lounge on May 3. At least 15 smokers grumbled at their banishment outside; the two nonsmokers in the club twirled the umbrellas in their fruity cocktails, and mumbled their thanks for not having to go home smelling like ashtrays. But a quartet of regulars seized the chance to use the open-air patio to light up joints. As they passed around the doobies, at least one regular mulled over the whereabouts of Lt. Doug Burkhart of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department. An occasional Hawk patron, the detective was AWOL on the bar’s first smoke-free day. “He’s here when you don’t need him; he’s not here when you do,” one patron says, as if Burkhart would bust a pot party anyway. Despite Burkhart’s absence, the bar’s owners have since strung up a videocam inside the club to monitor the smokers outside. Since its installation, they happily report that its pot-on-the-patio days are now over. But some barflies feel invaded. “It’s like I’m in Sunset Boulevard with Gloria Swanson saying, ‘I’m ready for my close-up,’” one patron seethes. “Anything to ruin it for the rest of us.” – Cris Glaser

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