Outdoor Heat Lamps Give Smokers Winter Refuge

Washington Post Express
December 18, 2007
by Marc Zawel

Photo by Michael Temchine for The Washington Post
LOVE IT OR HATE IT, the patio at Lauriol Plaza in Dupont Circle come spring and summer is usually one of the hottest tickets in town. But it’s not just a place to see and be seen. For smokers, it’s a place to light up.

And as D.C.’s temperatures plummet, many restaurants are rolling out heat lamps and radiant heaters to keep outdoor patios open — and smokers happy.

Mayi Castillo, the manager at Lauriol Plaza, said that the weather dictates whether her establishment will be serving outside. But the restaurant always keeps a couple heaters on by the main entrance. “Smokers tend to appreciate them,” she said.

This time of year, smokers are finding refuge at heat lamps across the city, including the patrons of Wonderland Ballroom in Columbia Heights, pictured above. And with the D.C. smoking ban going into its second year, those devices are increasingly more common features on the city’s restaurant and bar landscape.

Photo by Michael Temchine for The Washington PostAt Marvin at 14th and U streets NW, the roof deck, pictured at right, will be kept open year-round, even on “really cold nights,” said Sheldon Scott, the restaurant’s manager. The restaurant has installed both propane heat lamps, as well as infrared radiant heaters under its outdoor canopy. Sarah Rosner, a bartender who was dressed in a hat and sweater, acknowledged that it does sometimes get chilly working outside, but said patrons tend to appreciate the option. “A lot of people come here because they can smoke,” she said.

Photo by Michael Temchine for The Washington PostThe same can’t be said about the Black Cat, situated two blocks south from Marvin. Although the cordoned-off section of the sidewalk, pictured at left , — affectionately dubbed “the smoking pen” by owner Dante Ferrando — will remain throughout the winter, there will be no heaters. Judging, however, by the healthy crowds that generally gather outside between sets, body heat might help fill the void.

Eleven propane tanks line the wall outside of Adams Mill Bar and Grill in Adams Morgan. On the patio, two heaters will be on throughout the winter, said bartender Erica Bukevicz. “With smokers it’s been really popular,” she said. “It gets chilly after about 5 minutes out there. But that’s just about as much time as it takes to have a smoke.”

Cleveland Park Bar and Grill on Connecticut Avenue, also offers a heated roof deck. “Sometimes it gets too hot and we have to turn it down,” said bartender Katie Struzick. No luck here for smokers, though, since lighting up is not permitted. “It’s not great for the patrons who don’t smoke to be around those who do,” Struzick said. Her suggestion for those who want to smoke between drinks or after dinner: bring a warm jacket.

Photos by Michael Temchine for The Washington Post

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