O’Leary’s Smoking Bus

Robin Kinderman, photos by Andrea Paulseth

    In case you hadn’t noticed or heard, there’s a bus parked outside O’Leary’s in Eau Claire. What is it, you ask? Charles Kaiser, general manager and owner of the bar, thought up a more comfortable and creative way for his customers to enjoy a cigarette: he parked a bus outside O’Leary’s, set up some tables and chairs, and plugged in a space heater. Pretty spiffy, right? The city doesn’t think so. After just three weeks of customers enjoying a convenient place to smoke, Kaiser had the Fire Department, the Health Department, the Police Department, and City Attorneys knocking on his door. Kaiser assured them drinking was not allowed on the bus — it was just a warm place to smoke. Well, that creates a few problems. First off, the bus can be any other color than school bus yellow. Easy enough….except that it’s 10 degrees outside! After it’s painted, the DOT has to inspect it to make sure it’s a safe, running vehicle, even though Kaiser doesn’t plan on driving it. But, if it’s going to be parked in his lot, he has to have a license for it, which he can’t get until it’s inspected, which they can’t do until it’s painted, which can’t happen until it’s warm outside, which means there’s a risk that it will be hauled away as an abandoned vehicle. Bye bye, smoking bus, hello cold Wisconsin winter. Well, it was worth a try. Hopefully it’ll stick around.

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