Orlando's famed Hideaway Bar bans smoking inside and on the front porch


  • Photo by Sarah Jennifer Hardin
As of last Wednesday, the usual cloud of smoke inside the Hideaway Bar has disappeared for good. The Miami Dolphins-loving, Andrew Spear artwork-covered dive bar – famed for its cheeseburgers and single pool table – no longer allows smoking or vaping inside or on the front patio overlooking Virginia Avenue.

"We really cleaned up and cleared everything, so it doesn’t smell like smoke anymore," says Chip Critcher, the Hideaway Bar's owner. The change originally began on Sept. 18's National Cheeseburger Day, but they decided to make it permanent. This means employees can no longer smoke inside, either.

  • Photo by Sarah Jennifer Hardin
The Hideaway Bar advertised its new smoking policy on Facebook and on fliers posted at each entrance, a reminder to longtime customers not to light up.

Under Florida law, "stand-alone bars" may allow smoking inside if they sell mostly booze and a "merely incidental" amount of food – less than 10 percent of gross revenues. Critcher said the bar is now in full compliance with the spirit of Florida’s anti-smoking law, which prohibits smoking in enclosed, indoor workspaces. The change means the bar is also able to start selling more food, should it choose to.

  • Photo by Sarah Jennifer Hardin
Although smoking is no longer allowed inside, the Hideaway still makes it possible to spark up on the back patio.

"As a smoker myself, it's not much of a hassle to just go out back and sit on the patio for a while," says bar manager Rhiannon McLaughlin. "It keeps the place nice inside."

In addition to the new smoking policy, the Hideaway has installed new air conditioning units, painted the walls, and plans to make a few more interior upgrades.

"This could increase business for us," Critcher says, "and bring in more people who don’t smoke to our bar."

  • Photo by Sarah Jennifer Hardin
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