RIVERSIDE, Mo. — After more than 30 years of allowing customers to smoke, a popular restaurant in Riverside is snuffing it out for smokers.
Smoking or non? You won’t get that option for much longer.
Since 1983, Corner Cafe in Riverside has been serving guests its trademark cinnamon rolls among other tasty items.
You can still have a cigarette there too, but that’s about to change.
On February 1st, Corner Cafe will go smoke-free. Jason Rule’s family has owned the restaurant since its early days. He says management made the decision because smoking isn’t as socially accepted as it once was, and that 90 percent of his customers are not smokers.
“When we first started, more than half of our customers were smoking,” Rule said. “We were thinking back thirty years ago, we didn’t even have a smoking section. It was all smoking section.”
Corner Cafe is unique in its decision. The city of Riverside has no city-wide smoking restrictions for public places. The city’s fourth-term mayor applauds the restaurant’s choice.
“I commend them greatly on their efforts to do what they think is best for their business,” Riverside Mayor Kathy Rose said. “Their customers will let them know what they really think about that.”
Mayor Rose reminds us that voters in Riverside rejected a city-wide smoking ban back in 2009. The owners here at Corner Cafe say they hope their customers understand why they had to make this tough call.
Kristi Harbison has been coming here for close to 30 years. She says she and her mother won’t visit as often if they can’t smoke at the tables.
“I think it’s awful,” Harbison said. “I like to be able to smoke. They have different sections — smoking and non-smoking. I thought they should keep it that way.”
“We don’t want to offend anyone or turn them away,” Rule said.
“We’ll be as accommodating as we can for people. If people want to go outside and smoke, we’ll keep their food warm.”
And cafe owners know they may lose some business, if smokers choose to eat someplace else where they can smoke.
The Rule family also operates cafes in Independence and Liberty.
Both of those restaurants are smoke-free, as mandated by city-wide smoking bans in those cities.