Before we get to Cigar Dinners, I have to admit something. I’m saddened to say that along with enjoying Premium Cigars, I was a cigarette smoker for most of my life. I can recall seating in the Smoking Sections of restaurants, movie theaters, airports and even airplanes throughout my young life. When I moved to Nevada in 2000 for two years I remember my first trip to the supermarket, grabbing a cart and seeing a small ashtray conveniently mounted on it!
While I generally agree with the regulations and restrictions that have been placed on all smokers; I’ve often felt that those of us who occasionally enjoy a premium cigar have gotten a bad rap. Depending on where you go to smoke, even outside, some people give us a hard time.
From 1993-2000 I held amazing cigar dinners at a variety of restaurants in Long Island NY where I lived. For many years I had quarterly events at the local Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Those were the days!
I’m sure many of you have settled in with a favorite local cigar shop. Hopefully your place has a lounge. If it does you know how satisfying it is to spend time there with fellow cigar smokers. A nice Cigar lounge is an oasis for us on cold, rainy, snowy and freezing days to enjoy a smoke, watch a game or just getting together to talk with like minded folks. Here in Arizona when Summer comes , enjoying a good cigar outside when its 110 degrees is challenging to say the least!
Many stores hold cigar events at restaurants that offer outdoor seating venues when weather permits. While traveling around the northeastern states I was fortunate to meet some pretty savvy Cigar lounge owners. Many of them made an effort to have events at their stores highlighting cigar manufacturers they did business with. Special offers, raffles, cigar rolling and the like could draw customers in to enjoy the day; no matter what the weather was outside.
How it went down
I had the chance to meet a great tobacconist with a terrific lounge in the dead of a brutal New England winter. As we discussed the difficulties of organizing a smoking event at this time of the year a man entered his store asking to speak with him. As he sat down he explained he was a Chef that opened a new Bistro in town and welcomed us to visit and sample his food. As we read the menu I thought of something and asked,
“How much would you charge per person to put together a selection of appetizers representing your best recipes?”
He thought for a moment and questioned my motive for asking. I went on to explain that if we could put together 20-25 customers to come to the store’s lounge and offer them a special cigar dinners promotion to purchase 3 cigars and his food, they could meet him, sample his menu and would probably return to his place for a meal and become his customers.
“$25.00” was his response. We then asked him to give us a detailed listing of what he would offer. Within a day we put together a flyer highlighting the chef, his restaurant, the food and the three cigars we selected for an all in price of $49.95. After a week of offering this event to his customer base over 50 people wanted to attend!
How’d it go?
Needless to say the event was a huge success. In fact, the store owner had to hold two sittings because he couldn’t accommodate everyone who wanted to come at one time. The chef get a bunch of new customers during the slowest time of year; he also went on to build an outdoor seating area to accommodate more customers as well as holding full blown cigar dinner and brunch events; including a full menu when the weather turned nice.
Run this concept by the owner of your favorite cigar store. I’m sure there’s no shortage of restaurants looking for new customers. This type of event is easy to put together and is a win win for everyone!
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