I don’t care for the term ‘Cigar Lounge!’ For me, picturing ‘lounging around’ is not synonymous with active participation in the cigar experience. One can lounge with a cocktail, or lounge to kill time. Yes, cigars are supposed to be relaxing, allowing you to unwind and forget the serious issues of the day for an hour or two. Yet, the cigar demands a level of seriousness of its own without which the cigar will go unnoticed and unappreciated. With all the nuances of body, flavor, aroma, complexity and so on, I think cigars have character, personality.
As I see it, there is a proper time and setting for enjoying a cigar. I can’t enjoy a cigar in a venue with lots of TVs, food, or live music. One might ask what’s wrong with having fun and a good time. Nothing, of course. One should do this. As it relates to my own preferences, I consider the extra activity to be distracting. So determined to curate my ideal smoking experience, I opened my own cigar shop ten years ago. The focus has always been on the cigar. Only on the cigar. I put the time and effort in to make sure I can answer someone’s question with the words ‘Yes, I have those cigars in stock’. Or, perhaps, ‘I have a very close alternative’. And sometimes, ‘Let me recommend what I think will be a great fit for your preferences’. Selection has proven key to the longevity of a cigar shop, more so than how many screens may be available.
In 1996, I decided to turn my profession of computer programming and my passion for cigars into a garage business venture. I built a walk-in humidor, registered a domain name, built a website, wrote my own shopping cart program, got all the licenses and started an online cigar outfit. Robusto.com remains our domain to this day.
The business went well right off the bat, due mostly to the high demand for cigars during that period. However, the most important element that was missing from the whole picture was the human component – the camaraderie, the friendships that are forged when cigar smokers come together to enjoy their passion. This aspect of the cigar lifestyle is what led me to an unyielding pursuit to establish a physical store.
Robusto served its first in-person enthusiast in 2012 here in Arcadia, California, offering a brick-and-mortar cigar outlet to cigar fans in the San Gabriel Valley and surrounding areas. My mission is and has always been to offer a wide yet exquisite selection of cigars, proper advice and a live forum of constructive cigar conversation. My humidor has perfect climate control year-round. The tasting room is well ventilated, and the air is constantly purified. So, when you’re here to enjoy your smoke, nothing gets in the way. It’s you, your cigar and perhaps, if desired, someone to talk to.
So how do I describe the nature of my business? I call it ‘Fine Cigars and Tasting Room’. Yes, here we taste cigars. We learn about cigars. We appreciate good cigars. We dive into a deep level of contentment and comfort. We experience a mysteriously gratifying phenomenon. We encounter a growth process, a maturing of our souls, a refinement of our outlook on life!