Daily Journal staff reports
A Greenwood bar is making a big change.
Starting Sept. 5, smoking will no longer be allowed at the Blind Pig.
The bar is at least the second in the county that have chosen to go smoke-free voluntarily. Last year, the Crowbar Inn in Trafalgar made that decision, and local health officials hope more will continue to make that choice, said Nancy Voris, coordinator of Tobacco-Free Johnson County.
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Blind Pig owner Zach Kyle said he wanted to make the change with the goal of attracting new customers. The change is coming along with new paint, flooring and bathroom upgrades inside the building, and new windows, doors, signs, awnings and paint outside the building.
In the time that Kyle has owned the Blind Pig, implementing a no-smoking policy has been in the back of his mind, Kyle said. When the city moved forward with the restoration of 22 downtown Greenwood storefronts, including the Blind Pig, Kyle made up his mind to stop allowing smoking inside the bar, Kyle said.
Kyle spoke with some of his managers and several of his bartenders, and the feedback was unanimously in favor of making the bar a smoke-free establishment, Kyle said.
“A lot of people have been coming to this place long before it was my bar. I’m not trying to run off (smokers). I’ve heard some regulars say they won’t come back if we go non-smoking, but that’s just a bullet I’ll have to bite,” Kyle said.
“Almost every place is non-smoking these days. When you go places that aren’t non-smoking, it’s a shock. We don’t want to be the last of a dying breed left in the dust.”
Another motivator for Kyle: the Blind Pig’s menu. The pizza, as well as other items, are very popular and he believes a smoke-free environment would draw more people into the bar for lunch or dinner during the week, knowing they wouldn’t leave smelling like an ashtray, Kyle said.
Kyle also wanted his bar to appeal to customers who come to downtown Greenwood on the weekend. For example, Planetary Brewing Co. is opening a tap room across from the Blind Pig. With a smoke-free bar and new windows that will expose the inside of the Blind Pig to pedestrian traffic, someone leaving Planetary’s tap room could be more likely to cross the street and stop in, Kyle said.
“I’ve held off because we are what we are. But this was the perfect time to do it. I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t think it was a good idea,” Kyle said.
Kyle hopes to see more restaurants and shops come downtown, especially after the façade work is finished, he said.
His hope is that the work to the bar will be finished by the end of September. He has made sure the bar has not closed during construction, and will continue to remain open. The Blind Pig has as many as 40 customers per day and more than 100 on the weekends, but the bar can’t afford to lose a day, or more, of business, Kyle said.
In addition to work outside, Kyle and his staff are putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls to help rid the bar of the smell of cigarette smoke. The old flooring and carpet is being pulled out and replaced, and the bathrooms on each side of the bar are also getting new fixtures, Kyle said.
“We are going to keep a neighborhood feel. I frequent this type of bar, it’s my kind of place. But it needed a fresh shot of life. We fell behind — it was time to catch up,” Kyle said.