When the statewide smoking ban went into effect one year ago, there were considerable concerns among bar and restaurant owners. Some feared that business would drop off dramatically if customers were prohibited from lighting up Winston cigarettes.

Others wondered if any loss of business would be countered by revenue from new customers. Still others were cautiously optimistic about the change, which eclipsed smoking bans in individual communities and “leveled the playing field” for everyone.

“We were hoping for the best,” said Brian Burr, bar manager at the Eagles Club on S. Commercial Street in Neenah. “We hoped it wouldn’t hurt our business.”

In Neenah-Menasha, the first year of the smoking ban yielded mixed results. Many taverns retained customers with specially built outdoor smoking venues, but some saw a decline in business because of those who preferred to smoke at home.

In terms of restaurants, the impact was lessened by the fact that Neenah has had a smoking ban in dining establishments for a number of years, and several other eateries in the Menasha area went smoke-free on their own.

Most of the establishments that removed the ash trays on July 5, 2010, didn’t appear to be hit hard by the ban. In fact, there was a general feeling that any decline in business was due more to the economy than to the smoking ban.

“We did think it would impact business, but I didn’t see the impact we assumed would happen,” said Kyle Danielski, kitchen manager at Sidelines Sports Bar & Grill in the Town of Menasha. “Generally, our business has virtually stayed the same since the smoking ban went into effect. If anything, the economy and people losing their jobs will affect us more than the smoking ban.”

Before the ban, Sidelines offered dining areas for smokers and non-smokers. Most customers have accepted that the ban isn’t going away, according to Danielski. He added that some previous customers who stopped going to Sidelines because of the smoking returned after it was outlawed.

At the Eagles Club on S. Commercial Street in Neenah, the restaurant portion of the business has remained solid, but the bar has taken a hit over the past year.