After reading the article [“Benched,” July 28 Xpress] and all the comments [online], I felt that there were a few things that needed to be said. The benches have been gone for over three months now, so it is weird to hear all the noise now. The smoking that was affecting our customers was the issue. In the beginning, we did ask some folks to stop smoking, but they didn’t. The building management was also not happy with all the smoking in front of their entrance, so it was a joint decision. The city does not allow any smoking in all public areas, yet there are some that think it should be tolerated by a restaurant around customers that are offended.
We understand that these folks need a place to sit, and there are benches in front of the Civic Center and on the side of the building. Also, I heard that they are working on creating a sitting area behind the building. Back when we first removed the benches, we had quite a few residents come in and thank us, because some of the crowd [the benches] attracted “scared” them. There have also been many people that have asked us if it OK to wait for the bus or take a break on our chairs and we have never said no.
We seem to be getting a lot of negative remarks for other bench removals that have happened in the past, which have nothing to do with us. So before you make your decision on how to react to this story, please get all the facts, not just something Mountain Xpress decided to portray. Remember: We are a hard working, locally owned and operated business which provided jobs to six previously unemployed Asheville residents.
So either way you react, someone will be affected. We are very aware of our community, and it is impossible to make everyone happy, but we will do our best.
— Roman Braverman