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The Talk About Town - Local Eatery Wrestles With Smoke

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Local eatery wrestles with smoke

At the Cloverleaf Restaurant at 201 E. Liberty St., you’re free to light up on weekdays in the cozy front room with its round stools around a counter. But not on weekends, announces a small yellow sign in the window, with a sketch of a rescue robot shooting lasers from his eyes that cause a tall white cigarette to double over in pain.

Nick Stamadianos and his son George run the place. Nonsmokers themselves, they decided a few months ago to make the little cafe, known for hearty breakfasts and lunches, nonsmoking on Saturdays and Sundays. They wanted to attract the families with children who frequent downtown then, and realized the sight of customers smoking inside turned them off. The Cloverleaf has a no-smoking room in the back, but you have to walk through the smoking zone to get there and many nonsmokers don’t get that far.

Khad ijah Abdul Basir, who waits tables at the Cloverleaf, would like the place to go smoke-free. She says she’s not concerned about her own health, but worries the air is unhealthy for children and pregnant women. Abdul Basir’s son, Abdur Rahman, created the sign.

Nick Stamadianos tried making the restaurant smoke-free on weekends a few years ago. The response then was discouraging, but the new policy is going well this time, he says. “We get a lot more children and families now, and people are more into not smoking.” He thinks about eventually making the restaurant smoke-free all the time. But that would displease a lot of his weekday regulars.

Most of his customers, who include bus drivers, city hall workers and attorneys, do light up while they’re inside, he says.

“They can’t smoke at work, so they come here and smoke as much as possible.”

Stamadianos says a state government ban on smoking in restaurants would help him out, because then his customers couldn’t blame him.

EMU historian vs. Ollie

When the Military Book Club’s holiday catalog came out last month, Eastern Michigan University history professor Rob Citino’s book, “The German Way of War,” was one of the featured selections. Oliver North’s “War Stories III: The Heroes Who Defeated Hitler” was the other. And though nobody’s really keeping score, Citino’s had some fun playing up the head-to-head competition.

“Ollie’s going down!” jokes Citino, who has written seven books about World War II, including two others that have been offered by the Military Book Club. Citino says he’s honored to have his work featured. As for the perceived literary smackdown between him and North, well, that would be reading a little too much into it.

“Obviously the Military Book Club thinks it has two books that will sell well and that will appeal to two different audiences,” Citino says. “His book, I think, will appeal more to buffs; mine will appeal to a more scholarly audience. I don’t think Oliver North would even mind me saying that.”

Citino says North’s book will probably outsell his. It’s got the backing of an independent publisher (the University Press of Kansas published Citino’s) and there are a lot of World War II buffs out there. Besides, North’s book comes with a DVD.

Anne Rueter, Amy Whitesall, News features staff