Smoking or Non-smoking?


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Aug 2, 2006
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Like so many other first time posters here I'm working on opening an espresso shop. I feel pretty comfortable about most aspects of the business after reading the posts here (thanks!) now I would like to fine tune my concept.
Smoking or non-smoking? What's your opinions? How does it effect my potential customers? Will it turn off families and turn on the college crowd? How about any other groups, how will they respond, will they be pro or con? I'm a non-smoker but it seems that a lot of the kids I talk to want a smoke with their java.
Any imput will be helpful, Thanks.

I had a similar problem at my first shop. I knew I wanted it non-smoking inside for my health and my employees' health. At first I allowed smoking at the tables out in front. This did a few negative things - scared away a lot of people who didn't want to walk through cigarette smoke, encouraged undesirable kids to loiter, and generally made the shop look trashy and unappealing.

I made the front area completely non-smoking and cracked down on loitering and saw an immedate turn around in the business. We started attracting more desirable, regular and PAYING customers.

I can't imagine having smoking inside the shop. I think in certain college situations this could work - e.g. a hookah shop where you also serve different types of tobacco, but a lot of college towns are making smoking in restaurants illegal.

I personally wouldn't want it just for the sake of the health of employees.

Good luck and have fun!

I owned one of the hooka/coffee shops and have to admit that I would still have loved to have the cig smokers out front and not in the shop but it wasn't very feasable or justafiable. If you have to pick go with non-smoking. I smoke and have no problem stepping off property to catch a smoke so long as I don't lose my seat in the process. There are also a lot fewer smoking students now.
Smoking and coffee kind of go hand in hand...literally, but so does smoking, coffee and sitting on the crapper and I wouldn't let my employees/customers do that either.
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Thanks for the input

Thanks for the input. I defiantly want to go non-smoking. My only concern was that in my area it looks like the independents are all smoking and the chains are non-smoking. I'm totally anti-smoking so I really don't want to sell myself out, I've told myself that this biz would be for me, not just for the $.
think of the coffee...if you smoke in the store the coffee will be drawn into the coffee. I used to run a coffee/cigar bar. I would leave trays of ground coffee out at the end of the morning I would dispose of the ground coffee...the coffee would smell like a used ashtray. :evil:
We actually sell a espresso/nicotine blend--it's very popular.

Just kidding.

I honestly can't imagine allowing smoking in our shop. If most of the independent shops in your area allow smoking I suspect a lot of people will be drawn to your shop precisely because it is independent AND smoke free.

For us, operating a cafe is as much a lifestyle as a profession and breathing other peoples cigarette smoke is definately not a part of my lifestyle. Of course I'm sure it would hurt our business if we did allow smoking.

As more states and cities are outlawing smoking in restaurants I suspect this will be a moot question in another couple of years.


I think it would be wise to keep it non-smoking inside. That is what I plan to do, (my shop is under construction) and I will have a few small tables outside where I will permit smoking and provide ashtrays. I understand the pull to appease smokers; they are often coffee lovers and they deserve a little attention. I used to smoke years ago and am still sympathetic. I do agree with the other posters that allowing smoking inside is likely to hurt rather than help your shop, unless you have a very special "niche" and lots of young people around to keep up the business....there is a coffee house in my city that also sells cigarettes and is very smoky inside. It is extremely successful, busy all day long, and it is a "coffee dive bar" which means it is grungy and a bit rough, and its patrons like it and feel comfortable there. they had loyal patrons sign a petition to keep it a smoking place recently when our city passed a resolution against smoking in restaurants. A lot of (motor)bikers and ex-alcoholics congregate there, but this is an example of a very special niche marketing strategy. It works because it is so unique, and open insane hours from 7am til 2am every day, so they get people in there after drinking alcohol elsewhere and it can get quite colorful sometimes. Bear in mind that this kind of thing would not work if you were preparing any food other than toasting a bagel and/or handing over a premade doughnut, which is what they do. Most of their sales are expensive espresso drinks in the 4.50-5.00 range.

I don't know if any of that is helpful, but I thought it might be interesting at least. Go for non-smoking inside and allow it outdoors. My 2 cents.

Kim Sciabica
Crave Espresso Bar, Tucson, AZ
Yes i completely agree! Smokers are not bad people! They are not all hooligans and loitering punks. Coffee in one hand...cigarette in the other..the tastes go beautifully well together. And people who know this are coffee lovers not scary trashy junkies. So why not have a few tables outside? :lol:
The MPR (Peoples Legislature) recently passed a smoking law in Indonesia...a first big step in a country where nearly all males smoke, and a pack of Marlboro Red sells for about $0.70! Anyway the law states that non-smoking and smoking sections must be provided and clearly marked off. This has resulted in some slack interpretaions of the law- like a thin piece of rope between sections in restaurants. Often the non smoking section is outside, down the block and around the corner from the cafe its supposed to be in- such is the power of the smoking loby and consumer here. In cafes I am involved with we hve a strictly no-smoking policy inside- smokers are welcome outside. Our stand has resulted in some verbal abuse, but mainly applause from our regular clients. Being a roaster as well...the thought of smoke near my grinders (beans) pretty much reinforces my health related reasons for this stand.