With the passing of Houston’s smoking ban last year, smokers in the Village area were driven to a single sanctuary, a bar that harkens back to a simpler time when frat boys were frat boys and everyone’s hair smelled like cigarettes after a good night out. Location is everything at Marquis II, a windowless watering hole near Bissonnet and Kirby that sits just inside the West University city limits.
And for the unfamiliar, here’s a quick list of things West U doesn’t have: more than one bar, cops that won’t pull you over at night if you’re black or driving a shitty car, and a smoking ban that extends past restaurants.
And it looks like things are going to say that way. The West University Examiner reported the City Council was considering revising its smoking ordinance to include bars, but City Manager Michael Ross tells Hair Balls that at Monday’s meeting it became clear no one really cares if patrons of Marquis II light up.
“Council did discuss it, and there was no interest in changing the ordinance. There is no further ban being considered that would affect bars,” Ross said.
(This may make the Marquis II the last bar inside the Loop to allow smoking, but we can't be sure.)
Marquis II’s bar manager, who goes only by Al, was present at the meeting and says keeping the smokers inside is in everyone’s best interest.
“We would have had to make a smoking area for our patrons. We have neighbors right up next to us in the back – I was more concerned with their privacy. I’d have my customers outside, so it would have been noisy till 2 a.m.,” he says.
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Al attributes healthy business on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays to the bar’s unique situation. (Two-dollar Long Island iced teas get all the credit for Tuesday’s crowds.)
“The bar business has pretty much seen a decline,” he says. “Once they took the smoking away, people pretty much only go out on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays now. They’ll head to Midtown, they’ll head to the Heights, the new bars. But we’ve been able to maintain a steady week, which I’ll take.”
So to any self-righteous pink-lungers in the Village scene: Take that faux-cough to the next town over, and let the smokers enjoy this rare break.
-- Blake Whitaker