Who: Darlene Kaiser • Where: The Ballard Smoke Shop, 5439 Ballard Ave NW • When: Sun Nov 6, 11 pm

On this drizzly Sunday evening, this Ballard institution/fisherman-friendly watering hole is hosting a former pro-football player, a retired schoolteacher, a cantankerous hiphop fan, and a slew of working-class fortysomethings nursing cans of Budweiser. The eclectic crowd is being diligently tended to by Darlene Kaiser, a sharp and compassionate dame who's been distributing potent libations to legions of enamored barflies for 16 years. "I used to bartend at Blaze's Broiler," she says, cracking a fresh beer for one drinker. "When they closed, I tried to find the place with the best reputation for treating their employees well. [Smoke Shop owner] Tom Economou is just the best." Our conversation inevitably turns to the impending smoking ban vote, a topic that makes Kaiser shake her head sadly. "I'm not a smoker myself, but I knew exactly what this was when I walked into it. I've signed every petition there is against it." In between wishing a regular patron a happy birthday and calling him a cab, she emphatically reiterates her point: "I just believe bar owners have the right to decide how to run their places of business." HANNAH LEVIN