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Cigar Club Goes Corporate to Survive

Bruce Goldman
Posted: August 1, 2006

(continued from page 1)

The latest baseball action can be seen on one of the club's 42-inch plasma TVs.
"We basically outfitted this place on 10 to 15 cents on the dollar," said McCarthy. The total cost came to about $38,000, compared to an estimated $250,000 the club would have spent if it had hired outside contractors exclusively, according to George Koodray, a longtime member and club secretary.

"Nothing in here was reclaimable," said Koodray, who was sporting the Society's new maroon short-sleeve shirt at the group's July dinner. "We had to remove the studs, right down to the cinder block. We reframed, rewired and built everything out."

Longtime member Bob Lesnick, a private investigator by trade, did all the electrical work. Jeff Mortman, an ex-Marine, oversaw the plumbing and heating installation. Other members spackled, painted and cleaned. The only task requiring an outside contractor was the painting of the ceiling, which the club had raised from eight to 12 feet to accommodate the cigar smoke.

Once the space was renovated, the Society acquired tables, plush cloth chairs and other furniture in near mint condition at a discount from hotels and a casino that were liquidating their merchandise. Two 42-inch plasma TVs were set up in the main lounge, while the game room was equipped with a pool table, a pair of poker tables and a dartboard. A refrigerator was installed in the kitchenette, and planned vending machines may dish out playing cards along with the usual assortment of soda and snacks. The dining room, which can seat 100, will eventually have a small bandstand where a DJ will be able to spin tunes for people renting the club for private parties.

Members belly up to the poker tables in the club's game room.
Just as McCarthy had hoped, the Society's monthly dinners continued uninterrupted. The first repast in the new facility was held on May 3, even though the renovation was still ongoing. Six-foot sandwiches, several hot trays and salads were provided by one of the members, Jack Shahoor, who owns a Foodtown supermarket. Starting in June, the club was able to hire an outside caterer for the dinners.

The group -- whose members range from doctors and judges to contractors and other small-business owners -- invites representatives from cigar and beverage companies to the dinners, where members can sample cigars, spirits and other products. (General Cigar Co. and JR Tobacco have made appearances, as has Cricket Hill Brewery, a New Jersey lager and ale producer.) Another highlight of the dinners is the raffling off of a cigar box (or two).

In the future, the Society, which also holds an annual golf tournament, hopes to establish reciprocity agreements with other cigar-smoking organizations to provide "a refuge for travelers from other areas," said Koodray. Clubs from Montreal, Canada, and Florida have expressed preliminary interest in such a relationship, he said.

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