Cigar Bar Planned for Downtown Pinehurst
For Steve Norrell, where there's smoke, there is definitely opportunity.
The Florida businessman has plans to open The Smoke Inn Cigar and Wine Bar on the first floor of Magnolia Place, formerly the Razook's building, in downtown Pinehurst.
Norrell envisions an establishment where residents and tourists alike can "meet up before or after" other activities.
He said the business will feature microbrewed beers and regional wines, and will also sell a wide variety of cigars. There will be no smoking in the business, Norrell said.
"We are hoping to open by Memorial Day, but it may be more like June," Norrell said this week.
Norrell, who has been coming to Pinehurst regularly since 1992 and has owned a home here since 2006, said he had explored the idea of opening a cigar shop in Pinehurst for some time. He even looked into purchasing an existing business but decided it would be better to open his own establishment.
He looked at several spots in downtown Pinehurst before settling on Magnolia Place.
Susan Clift Brown, who owns the building, confirmed Norrell is a tenant. She said he has leased two spaces on the first floor of the building that fronts on Market Square.
"We are please to have those two spaces leased," Clift Brown said. "I think he will do very well there. I didn't ever think of a cigar store in my building, but this is more than a cigar store."
Norrell said he hired Stagaard and Chao Architects to help design the 2,400-square-foot space, which will have outdoor seating and an inviting interior setting. But what Norrell thinks will really set his place apart is cigars.
"There are a huge number of people in this area who are major cigar smokers, but they don't have a place to buy a quality product," he said.
He said he has purchased a licensing agreement with Florida-based Smoke Inn, a retail chain and online seller of cigars, and plans to have 250 to 300 square feet of space for a humidor in the building.
In addition to the large variety of cigars, Norrell said he also plans to offer a limited delivery area for those who purchase cigars.
"We want to give you a real reason to want to go down there," Norrell said, "and if you don't want to or can't get down there, then I'll drive them to you."
Norrell knows that there are really no gray areas when it comes to stogies. He says bluntly that people either really like them or can't stand them. But he said, right now, even though other industries may be slumping, the cigar industry as never been better.
"It is in a golden period," said Norrell, who works for a company that provides credit card processing and other e-commerce solutions for businesses.
There are three cigar, cigarette or smoke shops in Moore County, but no cigar bars.
North Carolina law requires that all bars and restaurants be smoke free. The law, which became effective Jan. 2, 2010, allows an exception for cigar bars provided they meet the following criteria:
n The bar must generate 60 percent or more of its quarterly gross revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages and 25 percent or more from the sale of cigars.
n The bar must have a humidor - which is a box or room with constant humidity designed to store cigars or pipe tobacco on the premises.
n The bar must not allow individuals under age 21 to enter.
n Smoke from the bar must not migrate from the bar to an enclosed area where smoking is prohibited under the state law, such as a restaurant.
n If the cigar bar begins operation after July 1, 2009, it must be located in a freestanding structure occupied solely by the bar.
n The bar must submit quarterly revenue reports to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health.
Norrell said he considered allowing cigar smoking indoors but opted against it.
"The more I think about it, the more I think it is a good decision," Norrell said. "I think it will provide a better atmosphere, a better overall experience for people."
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or tembrey@ thepilot.com.
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