Ten years after New York City banned smoking in restaurants and bars, diners are puffing away once again.
E-cigarettes—battery-powered cylinders that deliver vaporized nicotine—are becoming the drug of choice for gourmands who’d rather not stand out in the rain, heat, or snow to enjoy a few puffs. Manufacturers of the devices, which hook up to computers like iPhones (some download!) and glow like phosphorescent jellyfish, pitch the cigarettes as odorless, ash-free, and without tobacco smoke. For some restaurateurs, that means e-cigarettes fall outside the antismoking law.
“We allow it,” says Adele LeGault, general manager at Michael White’s Costata, an expensive SoHo steakhouse where she encounters at least one e-smoker each night.
Other big-name operators are still grappling with the issue. Neither Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (Maialino, Shake Shack) nor Daniel Boulud’s collection of French spots has an e-cigarette policy. Eleven Madison Park, where dinner for two can easily approach $900, says it would permit e-smoking in its lounge but not in the dining room. Gabriel Stulman’s more casual group of eateries (Perla, Fedora, Montmartre) forbids it.
Here’s what some of New York’s most prominent chefs and restaurateurs have to say about e-cigarettes: