The D.C. government has granted its first exemption to the smoking ban for a bar in Cleveland Park. Owners of the cigar bar Aroma say they had a 20 percent drop in business within six months after the city passed a smoking ban for all bars and restaurants last January. That makes the bar eligible to apply for an exemption.
Curt Large, of the bar's parent company Bedrock Management, says Aroma had to go through a rigorous process. Owners had to submit sales and tax records and prove the fall in revenues wasn't caused by a sudden increase in prices or fewer operating hours.
The exemption gives Aroma the right to allow smoking for up to three years.
Large says the company isn't pursuing exemptions for any of its other taverns. He says sales are down at Bedrock Billiards and Atomic Billiards. But Buffalo Billiards and Mackey's Pub "are doing better than ever."