Worth ban to snuff out smoking lounges

The quaint smoking lounge seems miles away from its location in a southwest suburban strip mall.

Relaxing music is piped through the speakers while the sweet, spicy aroma of flavored tobacco wafts past ornate hookah pipes.

In January, the Friends Cafe and Lounge in Worth will be history. Likewise for three other smoker-friendly lounges after the Village Board voted last week to expand the state’s indoor smoking ban to include establishments in business only to welcome smokers.

Citing federal anti-smoking initiatives, Worth officials concluded that smoking is bad for smokers and secondhand smoke endangers nonsmokers.

But Friends Cafe owner Ala Alsherbini insists the new law is a power play by Worth politicians to extinguish his business for good.

Alsherbini, 30, and village officials have sparred over the cafe at 11015 S. Harlem for months.

Worth Police Chief John Carpino said his officers have responded to complaints about litter, loud music and fighting in the cafe’s parking lot.

Village officials ordered the business closed in August, but it was reopened after Alsherbini agreed to close earlier each night.

But Alsherbini hasn’t lived up to his end of the bargain, officials said. They say people are inside the cafe when it’s supposed to be closed, customers trash the parking lot and loiterers wait to get inside.

Alsherbini thinks he’s being picked on because the politicians don’t like his Palestinian heritage.

Officials say there are plenty other Arab-owned businesses in town that inspire “nothing but compliments” from customers and politicians. Alsherbini “just doesn’t get it,” Mayor Randy Keller said. “You’ve got to take action.”

Alsherbini said: “I’m sure it’s not about smoking.”

source: www.suntimes.com

Similar Posts:

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!