by Joe Schwartz
The phone calls from patrons, both long-time and new, come about every 20 minutes at Hookah Bliss these days, everyone wanting to know one thing — are you still open?
Yes, for now, owner Adam Bliss tells them.
The Franklin Street hookah haven is open as usual despite a new statewide smoking ban in restaurants and bars that went into effect Sunday making it illegal to sell both food or alcohol and allow tobacco smoke in the same location.
Bliss, with his workers rallying by his side, is staging a nonviolent protest of the new law by staying open in spite of the rule. He knows he gets two warnings before the $200 per violation fines start coming. So far the health department hasn't been by to visit. No warnings and no tickets.
"We're going to end up in court over this, it's just going to take them awhile," said Bliss, who plans to sue on grounds that the law in discriminatory and unfair.
Other than the phone calls, Bliss says all is normal at his business. He has talked with the health department about the law, but says no one has cracked down on him yet.
A few customers have come in to support the decision to remain open, though.
"We've had people say, 'We saw you on the news, and we're here to support you,'" he said.
"We've also had a lot of calls from people who are very surprised that we are still open."