The Charles P. Stanley Cigar Co. aims to be your home away from home, a place that people can walk through the doors and immediately feel like they belong. On a typical afternoon, you may find co-owner Patrick Stanley III and bartender Jacob Netemeyer embroiled in a game of gin rummy or shooting the breeze with one of the lounge’s many regulars as the rustic fragrance of fresh tobacco fills the air. Welcome to your new spot.
“This is a chill-zone,” says Stanley. “It’s unlike any bar you’ll go into. When you go into a cigar lounge, you will meet a ton of people and everybody’s got one common thread and it’s that stick they’re smoking.” And there is certainly no shortage of cigars to choose from at Stanley’s. The walk-in humidor comes stocked with dozens of cigars to choose from, made from tobacco all over the world, including Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic depending on your palate for fine smokables. So take your pick, light up and share the company of close friends and perfect strangers alike.
As you smoke the night away, you can revel in the history that surrounds you. “My great-grandfather started Charles P. Stanley Cigar Co. back in 1876,” says Stanley. “He had six locations and was the exclusive vendor for the 1904 World’s Fair. Among his clients were Ulysses S. Grant and Mark Twain. Those two were big cigar smokers and they used to buy their sticks from my great-grandfather. He was the largest wholesaler of cigars in the United States of America.” With over 140 years of history reverberating through the lounge, it’s easy to see just how and why Stanley’s cigars have stood the test of time. Stanley’s Cigar Lounge offers something much more than cigars to smoke or whiskey to drink; Stanley’s offers an experience. What makes a good cigar isn’t just the quality of tobacco or the type of paper it’s rolled in, “What makes a good cigar is what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with,” says Netemeyer.
The cigar lounge on a typical day is filled with an assortment of different folks who come from different backgrounds and everyone has a story to tell. Stanley’s provides a platform for them to tell their story. For instance, “A guy who’s 22 years old can come in and meet a guy who’s 65 and has been working his way up for 40 years,” Stanley explains. “Now he’s got his own corporation, has 3,000 employees working for him and the kid could learn a thing or two from this guy who, because of the environment he’s in, is open to discussing it.”
Patrick Stanley has a story of his own that’s worth sharing. After all, he stands at the vanguard of an impressive lineage of cigar businessmen. “I grew up with it,” says Stanley. “My father smoked cigars and so did his father and his father before him. My dad smoked cigars for 50 years so I got to clean up the nubs he would throw out all over the yard when he was finished. That was my job.” It wasn’t long after that Stanley went from cleaning up the cigars to supplying them himself. “My father in his later years loved the cigar business so much but he wasn’t working anymore,” says Stanley. “So really what it was is that I wanted to give him a place to come and hang out and tell his story. That was the whole reason to open this place and then we quickly realized we had to operate it too.” Seven years later, that’s just what Patrick and his brother Kevin Stanley have continued to do just a stone’s throw away from their great-grandfather’s original location here in St. Louis. And the lounge is “open to the public so that anyone could walk in off the street. No membership needed,” says Stanley. No matter who you are or where you come from, there’s a seat with your name on it at Stanley’s. Drop by and say hello. M