J.D. Legends is officially a smoke-free restaurant.
And after just two weeks, business is booming, owner and operator Wasfi Samaan said.
As one of the hot spots for nightlife in Nicholasville with a bowling alley, bar, restaurant and live music, it was also one of the few places patrons could still smoke indoors.
“I anticipated the worst, but for the most part, smokers and nonsmokers have been accepting of this,” Samaan said. “Now there has been a drop in the later crowd, after 11:30 p.m., but it’s picked up in other areas.”
In many ways, the nonsmoking move has increased the restaurant’s and bowling alley’s customer base and improved business as much as 20 percent, Jason William said. Williams was one of several who helped work on the outside patio during the move to go nonsmoking.
J.D. Legends has see two of its biggest business days since the change June 1.
The first Friday of being nonsmoking Samaan said that the bowling alley saw its biggest crowd in years.
The next Monday the restaurant hosted its biggest poker night, which surprised the business owner because that crowd is largely smokers.
“In this economy, it’s always tough to make a risky decision,” he said. “But eventually we knew the whole state would be nonsmoking, so we chose to do it on our own terms, and I thought summertime would be the easiest time to make the transition. But there really haven’t been any issues.”
To accommodate the increased amount of patrons outside on the patio, they built a new cover over the tiki bar and hired a live DJ for most nights.
“I think if anything, business has increased,” DJ Jonelle Walker said. “The nightlife has been very lively.”
Longtime customer and smoker Brad Reeves said he wished he could still smoke inside but that being outside was fine with him.
“I knew it was going to happen eventually,” Reeves said. “Nothing I can do about it now, but it won’t stop me from coming here.”
Samaan said he’s been considering the move for several years and it was finally time to move forward with it.
“There was one lady and her husband who came when it was packed out on the patio and did not want to eat inside because she thought it was still a smoking restaurant,” Samaan said. “She eventually came in and when she realized there was no smoke, they decided to stay. I think I would have lost a customer that day.”
The difference is between “night and day” as far as smell and smoke-stained wallpaper, Samaan said.
Samaan hired Mike Cossette of Rainbow International to do the cleaning, which included an ozone machine to remove the odor, clean the carpets and tear down some wallpaper.
Going nonsmoking is not the only change patrons will notice.
Samaan said he is changing up the way J.D. Legends does business.
He wanted to change the feel of the restaurant by bringing in bigger and better bands and creating the theme “Legends of Music.”