Since the Michigan Smoking Ban was announced last year, there have been a lot of articles written about Robusto’s Martini Lounge in Grosse Pointe, and its exemption from the ban.  Even the lounge’s own website states that they’re exempt from the ban and that they’ll allow cigar smoking after May 1st.

padron 4000

Yesterday (April 22nd), I shot down to Grosse Pointe to meet a friend at Robusto’s to catch up over a martini and enjoy a great Padron 4000.  I also really wanted to talk to someone there and confirm first-hand that they had an exemption.

There has been a lot of discussion on this blog over the intricacies of the smoking ban and the exemptions that have been issued.  Perhaps the most confusing aspect is the serving of food and beverages.

It was my previous assumption that if a bar or restaurant was issued an exemption, they would need to isolate the area where cigars are smoked from the portion of the restaurant/bar where food and alcohol is consumed.  Now it seems as though if an exemption is issued, the establishment is exempt from any of the smoking ban’s requirements.

Simply put:  If you qualify for all of the criteria required to earn an exemption, none of the rules of the smoking ban apply to you.  Not a bad situation, if it ends up to be true.

robustos michigan smoking banrobustos michigan smoking ban

Many of the places that should be exempt from the smoking ban have separate, walled-off areas for cigar smokers (Fuse in Rochester, Big Rock Chophouse in Birmingham).

This was the most perplexing aspect of the Robusto’s exemption from my perspective.  Even if they were only to allow smoking in the upstairs are (where the humidors are), it’s still not a separate room.

After speaking with the people at Robusto’s yesterday evening, they’re quite sure that they’re exempt from the ban.  Great news for a location that has been a perfect place for cigar smokers in Detroit to gather for many years.

  • Mike

    Chris, this is what the state memo I posted under one of your other posts says. If the establishment overall makes the 10% cigar sales threshold, they are fully exempt.

    If an establishment chooses to isolate a portion of their business and make that a cigar bar — think the Camacho Cigar Bar at Comerica Park — then that is OK, too, as long as that area is seperately ventilated and makes 10% of its revenue generation from cigars. It’s more bookkeeping, but it is doable.

    Look at it this way. Big Rock Choophouse overall does not make 10% of its money from cigars — but it clearly does in the cigar lounge. The walled-off lounge would be exempt while the restaurant is not.

    I don’t know where these rumors about no food in cigar bars got started.

  • Mike

    The Detroit Free Press has a story about this issue:

  • Mr. Bojangles

    Are there any exempt Cigar Bars on the west side? I have not been able to locate even one!

  • Chris

    There’s a growing list of Michigan cigar bars on this blog here ->

    The only place on the list right now that is on the west side is Smokes on Burdick in Kalamazoo. Hopefully there are more out there that we don’t know about yet.

  • Mike

    But Smokes on Burdick is a tobacco shop, not cigar bar, right?

  • Mr. Bojangles

    Sorry, I was looking for exempt bars on the “west side” meaning western detroit burbs. Novi, Northville, Plymouth, Canton, etc. Thanks!