IBJNews

INSIDE DISH: Smokers' haven prepares for ban

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Inside Dish

Welcome back to IBJ’s video feature “Inside Dish: The Business of Running Restaurants.”

Our subject this week is Mass Avenue Pub, a quintessential neighborhood bar-and-grill joint toward the northeast end of downtown’s Massachusetts Avenue arts-and-retail corridor. In recent months, it also has become one of the last bastions for smokers on the Avenue, after several of the remaining taverns along the street banned butts in advance of the Super Bowl.



The influx of puffers only solidified the owners’ somewhat reluctant position as smoker-friendly. With as much as 65 percent of the pub’s clientele opting to light up, co-owner Tracy Robertson felt she couldn’t take the chance of alienating such a big population until all the bars in the city had to follow the same rules.

“I felt like I would be sacrificing my livelihood," Robertson said. "I couldn’t guarantee that the numbers would get better.

“Now that all bars and restaurants have to be nonsmoking, I think we’ll see an initial drop in business, but I think it will rebound and we may even see better numbers.”

At 6 a.m. on Friday, June 1, the city’s most restrictive smoking ban yet will go into effect, expanding existing citywide restrictions against indoor public smoking to include bowling alleys, hotel rooms and most bars.

With the playing field leveled, Robertson is relieved to be able to offer a smoke-free atmosphere. “I’m a nonsmoker, and it does bother me to go home and smell like an ashtray,” she said. “And it’s hard to watch people walk in and then walk right out of your business because of the atmosphere.”

The transition will entail more than just tossing out the ashtrays that dot each table in the 49-seat pub. In the video at top, Robertson discusses plans to give the restaurant a deep cleaning after the ban goes into effect. She also details the savings the pub will reap from no longer needing to maintain an air-purification system.

For the most part, Robertson and business partner Alan Woodrum want the pub to keep the same low-key, come-as-you-are vibe that endeared it to downtown neighborhood denizens when it opened in December 2001. After all, it survived a two-year hiatus in the mid-2000s after a major infrastructure collapse.

On Jan. 25, 2005, the back end of the pub fell into the excavation pit for a neighboring condominium project. Thus began two years of wrangling with lawyers, accountants and insurance companies as the pub’s landlord tried to scrape together the funds to rebuild, and Robertson and Woodrum held tight to the belief that they needed to stay in the same location.

“I didn’t feel like I could move my business even within the confines of Mass Ave and have the same character, have the same great product, the same feel, and cater to the same neighborhoods,” Robertson said.

In the video below, Robertson discusses the origins of the pub–originally named 745 Bar & Grill, after a predecessor in the same location–and then details the near-tragic events of Jan. 25, 2005. Since reopening on Feb. 7, 2007, the pub has maintained annual gross sales of about $500,000, Robertson said. Her income is based primarily on a salary that counts as an expense on the balance sheet. Profits for the most part are invested back into the pub.



 

x
x
x
Mass Avenue Pub
x
745 Massachusetts Ave.
x
(317) 974-0745
x
x
www.massavepub.com
x
x
x
Concept: Quintessential low-key, come-as-your-are neighborhood pub.
x
Founded: December 2001, taking the name of its predecessor in the space, 745 Bar & Grill. After the business was forced to close for two years in the mid-2000s due to a structural collapse, it reopened as Mass Avenue Pub on Feb. 7, 2007.
x
Owners: Alan Woodrum and Tracy Robertson
x
Startup costs: $85,000 ($40,000 to reopen the business after the building was reconstructed in 2007)
x
Gross sales: $500,000 (2011)
x
Seating: 49
x
Employees: 13
x
Goals: Deep-clean the restaurant after the June 1 smoking ban for bars goes into effect, and make some subtle updates to the decor while maintaining the homey atmosphere.
x
Good to know: Robertson is married to Stuart Robertson, owner of MacNivens Restaurant & Bar at 339 Massachusetts Ave. Neither has an ownership interest in the other's venue. "We are both very strong personalities, and we run our businesses separately and differently," Tracy said. "It's best that we don't work together, because I really do want to stay married."
x
x
x

 


 

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Love this bar!
    I love this bar, the lunch specials and the people who work there! When it goes smoke free....I'll love it even more!
  • Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
    Kudos to them for going "cold turkey" and not trying to find ways to complain or, worse, evade the ban that most of us realize is worth the effort for general health.

    Now it's up to the rest of us to help out by going in and having a drink at the least. Studies in other areas reveal a slight drop in business at the start of smoking bans, but a rise shortly afterwards as the 75% of us who don't smoke realize they can go have a good time and breath clean air.

    Good luck and cheers.
  • Can't Wait
    My wife and I can't wait to hit bars like the Mass Ave pub and sit at the bar at other bars. I believe you will see, these bars' business will pick up. Just like other states, the non-smokers and smokers will patronize; the smokers will just smoke outside.
  • Me Too
    I go out for drinks a couple times a week on Mass Ave. A good amount of my friends either smoke or don't mind it, and they like Mass Ave Pub. I won't go there anymore, period, so we go somewhere else that is smoke free. 6 years ago I loved the Pub, and can't wait to fall in love all over again! Be there the first week of June.
  • You'll get our business
    Actually, a few friends and I were talking and Mass Ave Pub is one of the bars we're most excited about going non-smoking as we've mostly avoided it because it was smoking.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Uh, sorry Johnnie, but you are incorrect. Despite the assertions by yourself and various defenders and captains, sports attendance is NOT off significantly at most sporting events in the US. Variances in attendance has been in the range of single digits, both + & - for years now. MLB has had most of its best overall attendance nubers in the last decade, and that trend has been consistent for most major sporting events. The number one issue cited by most fans when asked about attendance is the overall cost of attending. The presence of HD and big screen televisions in home doesn't even register, as a factor for not attending an event. VALUE in the product is the key, and apparently is something lacking in the current ICS. What other explanation is there when with what is routinely touted as the "best" racing on the planet, fans are staying away in DROVES. A "close" title battle into the last event at Fontana, with the "cars and stars" of the ICS, and who showed up? MAYBE 8K. Sorry, but HD TV isn't to blame for that kind of fan apathy.

  2. Do you need finance to establish your business ? Are you interested in getting a loan at 3% from our private company? If so please Email: suntrust_oil@blumail.org

  3. If she was worth the $ the public outcry over direct tv dropping them would have kept them on their dishes as we have seen with other companies. I too quit watching channel 13 after she showed up since I left channel 8 because of her all show rather than production results. When Randy on 8 corrected her she had a big head and incorrectly challenged his correction for pronunciation of a city. Other antics while she matures was too much for me with her very inaccurate forecasts. All the forecasters were predicting rain until Thursday except Chris. They predicted sunny on Thursday but instead of rain until Thursday upon which the sun would finally make it out in full glory Chris was right on the money just as I too predicted looking at the radar on weather.gov. One thing I love about Angela is the fear you can see in her every time it thunders in the winter. It far exceeds the entertainment value of her body language (high heel noise drags, depression, etc) when her forecasts are so incorrect. Her hair stands on end, you have to see it!!!

  4. Good Day, Apply For A Loan I am Mr Fernadez Antonio, a private Loan lender and a cooperate financial for real estate and any kinds of business financing. I also offer Loans to individuals, Firms and cooperate bodies at 3% interest rate We offer any kind of loans. email us via fernadezloaninvest@outlook.com LOAN APPLICATION FORM First name:......................... Middle name:......................... Last name:........................................ Date of birth (yyyy-mm-dd):....................... Gender:........................................... Marital status:................................... Total Amount Needed............................... Loan Duration.................................... Address:.......................................... City:............................................. State/province:................................... Zip/postal code:.................................. Country:.......................................... Phone:............................................ Fax:.............................................. Mobile/cellular:.................................. Monthly Income.................................... Occupation:....................................... Best Regard, Mr Fernadez Antonio.

  5. i will love to share my testimony to you all the people in world i got married to my husband about 2 year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side i have never love any man in my life except him. he is the father of my child and i don't want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today .few month ago he now decided to live me and the kid,being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken.i called my mom and explain every thing to her,my mother told me about DR.okoro how he helped her solve the problem between her and my dad i was surprise about it because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other. i was directed to DR. okoro on his email:okorospell@gmail.com and explain everything to him,so he promise me not to worry that he will cast a spell and make things come back to how we where so much in love again and that it was another female spirit that was controlling my husband he told me that my problem will be solved within two days if i believe i said OK So he cast a spell for me and after two days my love came back asking me to forgive him i Am so happy now. so that why i decided to share my experience with every body that have such problem contact Dr okoro the great spell caster on his email addresses spellcasterforlove@outlook.com

ADVERTISEMENT