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"No Smoking No Regrets"

Every year around the anniversary of the restaurant many  memories surface.  I often think about how grateful I am to David Gregg, who was one of the owners of the building (of the original location on Goldsborough St.), along with his brother, Arthur. David was a very special person who understood the concept of the restaurant. He took the time to read my business plan. He became one my biggest  champions . His brother was dead set against leasing part of the building to a restaurant since the failure rate of restaurants is so high and the build out is extremely expensive. In the end David convinced his brother to give me a chance and the rest is history.

The other person that I am extremely grateful to is Bruce Harrington. Bruce was the General Contractor for the restaurant thanks to David. Bruce and David were both extremely instrumental in every detail of the build out. They spent hours wrestling with layout and design, particularly since the focal point of the restaurant was the challenge of the open kitchen. There was another challenge. I wanted a non-smoking restaurant. I was told that the restaurant would fail if it was a non smoking venue. I wrestled with and took this advice very seriously.  My solution was a glassed in smoking lounge. Bruce and David spent hours pondering the plans trying to figure out where to place it.  In the end I made the decision to abandon the lounge.

I spent the mid to late 90’s in California. California was one of the first states to ban smoking inside and outside public spaces. It was not a question to me whether Out of the Fire was going to be a non-smoking venue. It was brought to my attention that it would be the ONLY non-smoking restaurant on the Eastern Shore. The Eastern Shore was not, at that time, in the same mindset as California  with regard to the smoking ban. This is not a criticism it is merely a statement of fact. I am not a smoker, however in the spirit of full transparency  I did have a  brief relationship with clove cigarettes in college. Regardless of my smoking status I listened to and considered advice about Out of the Fires  non smoking status . My gut instinct was that the restaurant would not suffer if it opened as a non-smoking venue. My instinct paid off. I had many customers thank me for creating a space to dine that was non-smoking, I am confident there were some that refused to patronize the restaurant as a result of my decision.

I recall,  as an 8 year old riding in the backseat of our Buick Electra 225 begging my mother ( in 1973) to roll down the windows so I could get a reprieve from the cigarette smoke that was billowing through the  the car.  My plea: “mom, roll down the windows,  I am dying back here!” Her response: “Oh, Amy Lorraine, stop exaggerating!” I am not exaggerating when I say I am forever  grateful that I deemed Out of the Fire a non-smoking restaurant the minute the doors opened in 2000. I am also not exaggerating when I express my sincere and heartfelt appreciation to David and Bruce for assisting me in the restaurant chapter of my life!


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