When Robin Wheeler recently talked to executive chef David Timney about the future growth of the restaurant, their conversation segued into the topic of smoking. Anyone who's been to the South Grand staple -- even casually, whether for a show or to eat - knows about Mangia's smoky reputation. According to Wheeler's interview, Timney said:
We've discussed [going non-smoking] in the last couple of weeks. Online, we have feedback and the biggest complaint is the smoking. So we're thinking maybe introducing non-smoking sooner. We don't want to disappoint the smokers who come here and have been coming here for years. It's kind of a touchy subject. You want both parties to be happy. What we're looking for in the future is to take the dining and focus a little bit more on it, but not neglect the bar and the music. That does very well, but it's its own thing and it's held its own. Now we want to take the food and step it up.
When he expanded on this to Wheeler, the purpose of the survey became very clear.
The restaurant has a lot of locals, and we want to expand that to a sector of the population that maybe doesn't think of it as often as we'd like. But the locals do very well and they support us very well, and we're appreciative of that. There's always been issues that people think of it as a nightclub because of the bar and they don't realize that, 'Oh wow, you're actually an Italian restaurant that does some really interesting things.'
With the smoking law that takes effect next January, we'll be able to go non-smoking and hopefully have an outdoor patio so the smokers will have their place to go. But we'll focus more on the dining part of the restaurant. There have always been issues with the smoke carrying over to the non-smoking -- you can have a non-smoking section in restaurants, but people are so sensitive to smoke that the slightest bit will turn them off. And I think there are people who don't come in here for that specific reason.
The idea of the venue going non-smoking early is likely going to polarize a lot of people. It'll be interesting to see how this develops.