Mastry's, landmark St. Pete bar, bans smoking
St. Petersburg, Florida -- Should smoking be banned from all bars? Restaurants are already that way. Now, the oldest bar in downtown St. Pete is smoke-free.
It used to be the only place smokers would go on this block - because you could smoke. But, Mastry's, at 233 Central Ave., has voluntarily gone no smoking.
"Smoking seems to be a dying thing of the past, eventually everywhere will be no smoking indoors. My dad loves it - grandfather probably rolled over in his grave and then said, 'Ah it's for the best in the long run.'' Justin Mastry says his family establishment was started back in 1935. The smoke-stained photos and ceiling tiles tell some of that story.
"This place has a long history of being a stinky smoky dive bar," he said. But while that worked for business back then, Mastry says the idea of allowing smoking now had become stale.
"I'd be standing behind this bar every night and groups of people would come in, covering their faces, shake their heads, turn around and leave."
What did this place used to look like? One patron responded, "Smoky. which was fine with me. Does every bar have to be smoke free?"
"People will come back. The people who love the place they've been going to for a while, even though they have to smoke outside," said another.
"We've been even keel - people said oh that'll kill business and no one will every come again ... only time will tell," said Mastry.
People visiting the bar will notice there are no ash trays, but behind the bar there are cigarettes for sale.
"My partner who has been in the business as long as my father asked if we go no smoking will we continue selling? I said - I assume we should," said Mastry.