Blue Flame Cigar Lounge, Torrance, California
For two LA police detectives, the smoke might finally be clearing on the most difficult case of all: what to do in retirement. Instead of investigating grisly crimes, Lyman and Nancy Doster are now trying to solve a simpler riddle of keeping cigar-smoking regulars happy in their new small business. That’s because the Dosters took over ownership of Bo’s Cigar Lounge in Torrance in November 2022, and have renamed it Blue Flame. As former frequent patrons, they knew a little about what it would take to keep the best customers happy.
Blue Flame is located in a section of Torrance known as Old Torrance, known for its antique shops and eclectic restaurants. Bo’s opened in 2009, and the Dosters had been smoking there for about six years, coming multiple times a week and eventually becoming members. The idea of taking over Bo’s came to Nancy back when Lyman’s retirement was looming. Lyman had always seen the ritual of smoking cigars as the ideal way to wind down from the pressures and stresses of solving cases for the Los Angeles Police Department. Nancy, who plans to continue working as a sex crimes detective until her retirement in a few years, met Lyman while working together in law enforcement. The couple envisioned an interesting but relatively less engrossing career as business owners as the ideal post-retirement gig. In late 2021, they approached the owner about buying the business.
The first order of business was to evaluate what needed to be changed, and what needed to stay the same. Those decisions are often the most difficult for new owners of established businesses, but the Dosters have been thoughtful and open to feedback along the way. While the bones of Bo’s remains, from its commanding domed ceiling in the main room to its walk-in humidor, the Dosters added some sharp new 70-inch televisions, a built-in surround sound system, and shiny leather seats to replace some of the old, tattered ones. With better televisions and new audio, the lounge is even more accommodating to sports fans during important games. Other than those modifications, customers might not even realize ownership changed hands. There’s still a small member’s lounge in the back with lockers and a monthly spending requirement. In the main lounge, all customers are required to smoke a cigar from the lounge’s humidor, but members are welcome to smoke their own cigars. Nancy did add one thing to the bathroom with female customers in mind: toilet seat covers.
The Dosters were keen to retain each member of the service staff so that regulars would continue to see familiar faces. Naomi, who has worked at Bo’s for nearly a decade, is one of the lounge’s more eager staffers, joining curious first-timers in the humidor to help them find the ideal cigar. While Naomi prefers more boutique choices (such as Tabernacle or Bandolero) regulars tend to favor Oliva Serie V, Flor de Las Antillas and Arturo Fuente. With about 100 different types of cigars, the humidor has considerable variety. Davidoff Winston Churchills, Padrón Anniversary Series and Rocky Patel’s Aged Limited and Rare are among the more luxurious finds, and more affordable offerings include Brick House and Punch Knuckle Buster.
The lounge is quite welcoming. The tradition is for anyone taking off for the night to go around the room and offer a fist bump and a friendly “good night” to those still enjoying their smokes. While most of the clientele tends to lean male, the relaxed environment feels comfortable for all folks. The Dosters, one of the few Black cigar lounge owners in the Los Angeles area, said they want to reflect the cultural diversity of the South Bay, a region that includes communities such as San Pedro, Redondo Beach, Torrance, and Manhattan Beach. “We do have a lot of African Americans that do come in. We’re Black owners within this community, but we feel most of our clients and customers have been pretty much the same [since taking ownership],” says Lyman. “We’ve gone to different lounges, and some are clique-ish, others are come-as-you-are. We want cigars to be the main focus, not politics.”
That subject could come up given the law enforcement background of the Dosters, and its moniker of Blue Flame. But even that association is somewhat subtle. The Dosters say the name of the lounge refers to the flame of a butane lighter, though they were keen to install some blue LED lights around the domed ceiling to provide a colorful hint to the name. Those in law enforcement might know that “blue flamers” refers to overeager young recruits who end up burning out in the long run. But given their calm, measured demeanor and genuine enthusiasm for being Torrance’s only cigar lounge, they see a much longer future ahead. “I thought to myself, I’m too young to be retiring at 55. When I was sitting here one night, the light bulb went off,” says Lyman Doster. Hopefully, that bulb keeps the Blue Flame lit for many years.
Blue Flame Cigar Lounge
1305 Sartori Ave.
Hours: 10 am-10 pm, daily