This past week I was on business in the St. Louis area and, like all trips I go on, I always look for a local shop to settle into in the evening after a long day of work. A little google search took me the Charles P. Stanley Cigar Company in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. The search showed it to be highly rated and it was one of only a few shops in the city that was opened late during the week, which met my criteria, as a work day ends around 7 – 8 PM for me.
After a work dinner, I easily convinced my work colleague Mike to join me on a trek from St. Charles to St. Louis. It was an easy 25 minute drive down to the lounge where I found parking on the street for free, but there is also a number of evening parking lots that charge only 6 bucks for the night if you can’t find street parking.
The lounge is easily located in a classic old building on the corner of Washington Ave and N. 11th Street in the downtown section of the city, just blocks from the convention center. There is an entrance on both streets.
Once you enter, you quickly notice the sizable walk-in humidor, larger center bar, tiled floor, high ceilings, and colorful murals on the wall. There was ample seating around the bar and plenty of tables and leather couches and chairs throughout, to relax in. The bar has a full selection of beer, fine wine and premium spirits for your enjoyment. There was a large crowd of patrons on the nights we were there and with the combination of high ceiling, ventilation, and smoke eaters there was virtually no lingering smoke in the lounge.
We made our way to the humidor, to pick out our selection for the evening. With well over 500 facings it took some time to select from the choices in front of us. I should note the humidor was stocked with the bog box brands and just a limited selection of small boutique brands. I selected one of my go to brands, the La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor and Mike picked up a Padron 1926. What I particularly enjoyed, was the knowledgeable humidor attendant that was there help you make your selection and offer to cut your choice however you like. They also have a point of sale terminal in the humidor to register your purchase or pay right there.
We made our way over to a corner of the lounge to settle into a comfortable couch to start the evening. There was a flat screen television on the wall, and as I looked around I noticed there were ample screens hanging throughout so you can watch the city’s beloved Cardinals play. I decided to pair my cigar with some Ron Zacapa rum and Mike went with a Balvenie single malt. As we sat and chilled out from the day, the bartender came over and presented me a history sheet that described the story of the establishment. I also noticed the picture of the original founder, Charles P. Stanley, was hanging on the wall across from us, seemingly gazing over the lounge.
A Little History
The history goes back to 1876 when Charles P. Stanley, an Irish Immigrant, who worked in the cigar business since he was 16 years old and at the young age of 22, decided to open his own shop. Charles had a nose and eye for the best products and his new shop carried only the best on both product and service. The shop quickly grew in popularity and included such famous names as President Ulysses S. Grant and even Sir Arthur Sullivan, the famed stage writer from the Gilbert and Sullivan team. Sir Arthur Sullivan even lent his name to a special Stanley Cigars blend, known as the Sir Arthur Sullivan cigar. Even though the shop had many a celebrity visiting, it was a place where even the working man could enjoy a fine cigar as noted by Charles’ grandson, Charles P. Stanley II.
According to the history, the shop had over 270 Private Label brands at its height and grew to multiple locations throughout the St. Louis area. At the start of the 20th century, the Stanley Cigar Company was one the country’s largest wholesaler of cigars and had factories in Havana, Cuba and Tampa, Florida.
Sadly, the Great Depression forced the company to close its operations and as Charles P. Stanley II lamented:
“People were scrambling for money just to buy food. It was good run, one I very much enjoyed as a youngster.”
That “run” was not lost on Patrick Stanley and Kevin O’Reilly Stanley, who after 60 years from the closing of the original shop, decided to re-ignite the family flame and open the Charles P. Stanley Cigar Shop and Lounge. These days Kevin is all but silent but Patrick and his friend Doug Volling kept things rolling and have carried the tradition of Stanley family to offer the finest cigars and service. Having met Patrick and Doug I would say they are a dynamic duo that are always there to join you in a good smoke and conversation.
The new shop is located just a block from the original store and like years past, you can run into celebrities and cigar lovers from all walks of life that mingle to enjoy the pleasure of the leaf and good company. It is now operated by members and friends of the Stanley family including, Marc Gwynn, Jacob Netemeyer, Patrick Stanley, Dave Fitzgibbons, Jaiden Sanford, and Doug Volling.
Each and every one of these folks were friendly and open to discussion as well as each patron I met.
Get There – Be There
The Charles P. Stanley Cigar Company is located at 1000 Washington Ave, St. Louis, MO 63101.
Hours of operation are:
- Mon through Thurs – 3:00PM to 1:00AM
- Fri and Sat – 3:00PM to 11:00PM
- Sun – Closed
You can visit there website at www.stanleycigarco.com/
Check out their Facebook page at: Charles P Stanley
Phone: (314) 436-3500
The lounge will certainly be one of my go to places whenever I am in the area – I can highly recommend it to all.