Papaspiros: smoking ban would mean move to Forest Park

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Oak Park restaurateurs came out in force last week to oppose a proposed ordinance that would ban smoking at all indoor work places, many of them saying a ban would drive customers to neighboring communities.

But at least one restaurant owner said the legislation would drive him to take his business across Harlem Avenue and into Forest Park.

"We would be devastated. It would kill my business," said Spiro Papageorge, owner of Papaspiro's on Lake Street, just east of Oak Park Avenue. "There is a strong possibility that we would move to Forest Park."

Papageorge said he has spoken to Anthony Calderone, Forest Park's mayor, about relocation. Rumors surfaced at last week's board meeting that Calderone was among officials from neighboring villages out recruiting businesses to relocate. Calderone said he has not actively recruited Oak Park restaurants but acknowledged that Papageorge approached him about a move.

Papageorge said he would move out of necessity, not because he wants to leave Oak Park.

Like many restaurants, Papageorge said most of his profit comes from liquor sales, and smokers tend to drink more. Without that additional revenue, Papageorge said he couldn't afford the "huge" rent he pays.

The entire lower level of his restaurant is a designated smoking area, which he said attracts many smokers during lunch.

Though he understands doctors' desire to improve public health, Papageorge said whether or not to allow smoking should be a business' decision.

"It's a matter of choice and revenue. Our life savings are in our business," he said. 
?#34;Katharine Grayson

Several businesses and local organizations testified at last week's village board meeting against the proposed in-door smoking ban:
? The Oak Park and River Forest
   Chamber of Commerce
?  Al's Grill
?  Poor Phil's
?  Philanders/Carleton Hotel
?  Cozy Corner
?  The Ale House/La Bella
?  Downtown Oak Park
?  Cucina Paradisio
? The Oak Park Area Convention and
    Visitor's Bureau
?  The Illinois Restaurant Association
?  Robinson's Ribs
?  Papaspiros
?  Owners of the Medical Arts Building
?  The Eyeglass shop
?#34;Katharine Grayson

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