The Cherry Street Burns Tobacconist expanded out of its smaller Chattanooga Billiard Club location in January, and on Wednesday, leaders hosted a party to celebrate the new second-floor Davidoff Lounge.
"I'm really proud of it because I think it turned out really nice," Chattanooga Billiard Club owner Phil Windham said Thursday.
For years, Burns had been located inside CBC. But this winter, Phil and his wife, Janice, moved into space they own in the building next door to the billiard club, in what some people may know as the Shapiro Building.
—The lounge has four levels of membership, ranging from $100 to $250. The levels are bronze, silver, gold and platinum.
—It's open from 11 a.m. until midnight on weekdays and until customers leave on weekends.
—The lounge has 100 lockers now, but owners can add more as needed. Phil said they might cap membership at 125-150, but he will wait and see how things go before making a final decision.
—Phil said his goal was to sign up 25 members at Wednesday's event. Leaders got 23 members, so he said they are on track.
—Phil is working with River City Company leaders about the possibility of urban art on the back of the building, which faces the 700 block of Market Street. Davidoff leaders are going to help with possible art on the interior of the lounge and possibly with art for the patio, which faces Cherry Street.
—You don't have to be a cigar smoker to be a member. Phil said the business' filtration system keeps the area clear of most smoke when there's a typical number of people there.
—A third-floor dining area is in the works and should be open in the next few months.
Since the move, they've been working on turning the second floor of that building into a lounge. The grand opening won't be for a couple of months, but they are open and taking members for the private club.
"It's a branded cigar lounge," Phil said. "Davidoff is the brand. It will be part of a worldwide network of Davidoff cigar lounges."
The completion of the lounge isn't the end of improvements for Burns, though. Phil is planning a dining room on the third floor, and he's working with leaders at River City Company for possible urban art on the back of his building, he said.
There are currently other similar lounges being constructed in New Jersey and Texas, he also said.
The first lounge opened last year in Westmont, Ill. Actor Kelsey Grammer attended the opening of that lounge, according to a news release.
The idea of the lounges is to encapsulate a local, unique vibe while still showing off the Davidoff brand, Phil said.
"They are not cookie-cutter lounges," he said. "Each will have its own personality."
The Windhams put about $250,000 into the project, Phil said.
But he saved at least $25,000 with the help of Davidoff, which has designers who helped create the atmosphere.
The design team is coming into town this weekend to help make sure everything is in place, Phil said.
Full food and drink service is available, and members get humidified, temperature-controlled lockers to store cigars.
There's a meeting room and lounge space.
The private club offers different levels of membership, which Phil said are affordable.
The highest level of membership costs about the same as a mid-range-level box of cigars, he said.
The membership works as a store credit, he also said.
It costs between $100 and $250, and each of the four levels—bronze, silver, gold and platinum—has a different level of amenities available.
"We are trying to use the philosophy in Las Vegas—the bigger the player you are, the more free stuff you get," he said.
And the cost isn't a fee, it's an investment in the store.
Membership requires that customers enter into a contract to have a recurring fee toward store credit.
For example, a bronze-level member would commit to spend $100 a month. If they don't spend that amount in a month, it just builds up, and they can buy items later.
The membership also comes with discounts on certain items.
Members can bring one guest a month, unless they are at the highest level of membership—then, they can pretty much bring a guest anytime.
"We use the term 'flexible,'" he said about the guest policy for the platinum members. "If you're a good-spending customer, we don't care who you bring and how often. We might pull back the reins if somebody takes advantage, but we don't anticipate that."
Members also have access to a boardroom where they can host gatherings. The highest membership level gets use of it for free. For other levels, there's a small fee.
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