If you have read my previous dispatches from California over the years, then you know that I have consistently argued that finding a place to smoke a cigar in Los Angeles is not as difficult as everyone makes it out to be. Sure, you can't smoke anywhere you want and you can't smoke everywhere, but if you want a comfortable place to enjoy a robusto, there is plenty of choice. That, however, is not the case for Santa Monica. The antismoking sentiment is so strong that enjoying a cigar in a cigar shop is no longer possible. So, David Weiss, the owner of Lone Wolf Cigar Company, which has a shop in Santa Monica, opened up a cigar lounge and club in April 2014 just across the border in Los Angeles.
The space is elegant in its simplicity and now has been remodeled to include a space for non-members to sit and enjoy a cigar purchased from the humidor. Two coffee tables are each surrounded by three comfortable leather chairs. They sit in front of the counter and extend the lounge's hospitality.
“We had a lot of requests from a lot of different people to come in and have a cigar,” explained Weiss. “A lot of them are just passing through and it made more sense to invite them in and introduce them to Lone Wolf.”
The update of the front space closed off a door that led directly to the larger private lounge. Now, members enter through the humidor into an expansive room that reminds one of a library or dining hall, with couches, chairs and a conference table. The light fixtures are reminiscent of the "flying saucer" towers at the site of the 1964 New York World's Fair. There is seating for about 100. The floor is cement and the ceilings high. During the day, jazz and blues are on the sound system. That could change later in the day. There are two TVs. Espresso and soft drinks are available.
This is a very L.A. scene. Members come in and use the space as a place to conduct business, though not in a hardcore way. Most of it is guys on their computers (there is WiFi) either writing the new blockbuster or negotiating a big commercial mortgage. OK, I'm speculating, but it could happen. There is a sort of shift change around 4 p.m. as more members come in from their offices and light up. Like most such establishments in L.A., members can bring in food from nearby restaurants.
The lounge is a private club with a revised yearly membership of $1,000 with no cigar purchases. Weiss added a half-price membership for $500 if one purchases all cigars in the shop, with no cigars allowed from the outside. The third option for using the private lounge for a single day is to purchase $50 in cigars per person. Cigar lockers cost $500 a year or are free with a purchase of $1,500 in cigars annually from Lone Wolf.
The gentlemen who work in the shop and lounge are very knowledgeable about their products. Davidoff is the biggest selling brand, followed by Ashton and Fuente. The lounge has a "No Band Cigar Club" in which participants smoke four or five cigars without the bands on them and learn to appreciate the cigar for the cigar. The hope is to elevate everyone's palate. That's great, but it's just a bonus on top of having another great stop on the L.A. cigar map.
Just remember though. Don't cross into Santa Monica before you finish your cigar.
The Lone Wolf Cigar Company & Cigar Lounge
11950 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90025
Open Monday through Saturday: 10:30 a.m. to midnight
Sunday: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
[Updated Jan. 23, 2018]: New pricing structure and amenities.