'S 'nuff said

April 18, 2003

BALTIMORE restaurateurs are once again lighting candles instead of cursing the darkness, thanks to a dose of common sense from Mayor Martin O'Malley, who learned from an article in The Sun on Wednesday that the city's Fire Department had banned from local restaurants and bars all candles, oil lamps and other tragedies just waiting to happen.

Fire Division Chief Theodore G. Saunders said the ban was in response to the deadly fire caused by the illegal use of fireworks in a Rhode Island night club and the stampede set off by the use of pepper spray in a crowded Chicago night spot. So maybe a ban on Roman candles in restaurants and bars would have made sense; except, one assumes, there already is one.

The truth is that waiters' eyebrows are more endangered by flaming saganaki or the occasional duck flambM-i than diners are by that romantic little candle, whose evening glow adds a sparkle to the eye and a softness to the edges that time carves in aging faces. And no, we don't think saganaki and duck flambM-i should be banned either.

After intervention by the mayor -- to his credit, a proponent of candlelight dinners -- a face-saving compromise was reached this week. Now restaurants can have candles, but not on the floor and not in containers that will catch fire. We'll drink to that.

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