Smokin' U S A
In The 1920s There Were Speakeasies. In The 1990s There Are Cigar Lounges
Shandana A. Durrani
From the Print Edition:
Danny DeVito, Winter 96
(continued from page 6)
On the other coast, near Seattle, lies the International Cigar Store and Smoking Lounge. This retail/lounge complex opened almost two years ago to overwhelming success, according to owner Jeff Allen. Allen readily admits that he opened the club only for the money. Although he isn't a cigar smoker himself, he stocks more than 100 different cigars from Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico, the Canary Islands and Germany. Prices range from $4.50 for an Hoyo de Monterrey Rothschild to $30 for the Louisville Slugger-sized, 18 inch by 66 ring Cuba Aliados General. The 2,800-square-foot lounge, with dark green leather seats and Italian chandeliers, offers a relaxing smoking environment. The bar features Ports, beers and coffees as well as light American fare. Cigar girls serve smokes on sterling silver platters and light cigars in several different ways. This past spring, Allen opened an International Cigar Store at the Sheraton Hotel in Tacoma; he claims that he will eventually open 240 lounges worldwide.
All the lounges surveyed for this article are having difficulty getting cigars, whether from tobacconists in their area or direct from manufacturers. Because most cigar distributors aren't opening new accounts with tobacconists or clubs, newcomers venturing into the market will find it virtually impossible to acquire top-of-the line brands.
Many of these clubs have installed state-of-the-art ventilation systems to make their cigar lounges accessible not only to cigar lovers, but to friends of cigar lovers as well. Owners of many of these lounges say they are trying to attract serious cigar smokers, not those grabbing onto the latest fad.
These are by no means the only cigar lounges around. Lounges are opening at an increasingly rapid rate, with more added every month. Recent openings noted shortly before this article went to press include Fumé and The Essex Supper Club, both in San Francisco; Harry's Martini and Cigar Bar in Toledo, Ohio; Churchill's in Cooper City, Florida; Stogie's Friends in Rogers, Arkansas, and Mos'quito, The Smoking Lounge at Gotham Comedy Club and The Cigar Room at Harrison James in New York City.
What's more, hundreds of cigar friendly bars (such as the Gingerman in New York City and Neon's in Cincinnati) and restaurants around the United States were not included in this article. To control the scope of this story, only establishments specifically designed for cigar smoking were included.
Cigar bars, lounges, clubs, whatever they are called, are a true reflection of the way cigar smokers are now being seen in a growing number of cities across the United States: They are a group that needs to be taken seriously, because they are here to stay.
Grand Havana Room
301 North Canon Drive
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