McStorlie’s welcomes back smokers | AspenTimes.com

McStorlie’s welcomes back smokers

Joel Stonington

Byers DeVilliers, left, and Ruben Welman enjoy a smoke and a pint at McStorlies Pub, where a smoking ban has been lifted. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)

McStorlie’s Pub reopened last week as a smoking establishment after being smoke-free for less than a year.

The reversal bucks the norm in Aspen, where most establishments are smoke-free. Although bars escaped the city’s far-reaching smoking ban, enacted 20 years ago, many have voluntarily sent smokers outside. As the debate puffs along, McStorlie’s has chosen to re-embrace smokers.

“It’s just business,” said new owner Heather Kent, noting the clientele at the pub before the smoking ban was “a lot of lifties. There were Russians, Argentineans, a lot of internationals, and a high percentage of them smoked.”

Now Kent wants that crowd to start calling McStorlie’s home again. She has installed a new ventilation system, started serving traditional Irish dishes and more tavern food, advertising specials for locals and the working class of Aspen, and offering cheaper prices, such as a pint of Pabst Blue Ribbon for $2.

Kent bought McStorlie’s from R.T. Flanagan, who banned smoking only a week after he bought it last January.

“It wasn’t for sale,” she said, “but I persuaded him. I saw it as a cool little spot to do something fun with.”

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Mostly, however, Kent is expecting Dennis Mcglinn, who worked at the J-Bar for more than a decade but is now the McStorlie’s bar manager, to run the show.

Mcglinn says allowing smokers is bringing in more customers than it’s driving away.

“I’ve had one complaint,” he said. “But look around ” everyone is smoking.”

Alan Hodgson, a Welsh patron sitting at the bar, applauded the change.

“It helps for me because I’m a smoker. It used to be too smoky in here but they fixed the ventilation,” he said.

Mcglinn’s presence, he added, is an even bigger draw. “I follow the bartender around,” Hodgson said.

Joel Stonington’s e-mail is jstonington@aspentimes.com