Friday, June 03, 2011

Who Shot Liberty Valence?

I was a bit saddened to read in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch that Liberty Valence Restaurant, on Forest Hill Avenue, had closed. This maven has fond memories of the nights that the maveness and I frequented Liberty Valence and came away with our taste buds satisfied and our arteries clogged. Liberty Valence was a place with great décor and good, reasonably-priced steaks. Liberty Valence was an institution on the south side of the James for many years. So, what happened?

Eating at Liberty Valence always had a downside. Because of the way it was set up, there were only a few tables that were truly smoke-free. The other “non-smoking” tables were always subject to cigarette smoke migrating across the large room. Several times we complained to the management about the smoke permeating the non-smoking area. When nearby O’Tooles opted to be a smoke-free restaurant, apparently without hurting its business, we suggested to the people at Liberty Valence that they might go the same way. But, I guess they felt that a western restaurant with a John Wayne theme could not survive without smoke curling through the room. When the General Assembly voted to restrict smoking at Virginia restaurants, the management at Liberty Valence refused to go along. They put a sign on the front door indicating that henceforth they would be operating as a private club and that smoking would continue. That was the day that this family eliminated Liberty Valence from our future restaurant plans.

Now Liberty Valence is dead. People can suggest many reasons for its demise. To me it is clear. Tobacco shot Liberty Valence.

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