A Case Study for America
One Cigar Lounge Survives Using Passion for Cigars, as the Best Defense
By J. Glynn Loope, Executive Director
Cigar Rights of America
The La Habana Hemingway Team at
New Orleans City Hall
Last week was special, for one cigar lounge in America. Now one may wonder why, with thousands of places to enjoy a cigar, would we talk about just one spot in this vast nation. It’s because what happened to the La Habana Hemingway Cigar Bar in New Orleans could happen to your favorite spot, in your local community, or to that one place you visited that served as your sanctuary while enjoying a great cigar.
Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey
A Champion for Small Business
Sergio Cabrera owns La Habana Hemingway in the heart of the New Orleans French Quarter. He is an Army veteran with tours of Iraq and Afghanistan behind him. It is a cigar lounge of the highest order. Top shelf spirits, a little zydeco music in the background, a handsome bar with multiple rooms depending on your mood, some amazing art adorns the walls, and a staff that obviously enjoys their jobs as they are quick with a fresh drink, or a light for your cigar.
Glynn Loope and Sergio Cabrera
As many know, the New Orleans City Council recently passed a smoking ban, all while Sergio was engaged in a permitting scuffle that jeopardized the ability to have smoking in his cigar lounge. He engaged the right lawyers at the local firm of Adams & Reese, mounted a public response with his loyal customers leaping to his defense, met with members of city council, got his landlord, business neighbors, suppliers, and customers that include a former judge and close friends to speak for his cause.
On the evening before the final hearing, the dimly lit atmosphere of La Habana Hemingway cigar lounge had tourists as patrons, coupled with a two local college professors, and former Civil District judge, The Honorable Ron Sholes, who as a cigar connoisseur, bar none, who ironically has a Masters degree in Public Health.
At the hearing last week, the entire Cabrera family arrived. Natives of Nicaragua, they are all entrepreneurs contributing to the local small business community. City Council Member Nadine Ramsey made the case for approving the permit for La Habana Hemingway, as she logically, methodically and forcefully made the case for approving the permit for smoking cigars in the lounge – and to reject the recommendation of the planning commission that wanted to deny the permit.
The anti-crowd was lined up in opposition, but Sergio had a secret weapon – the passion of his family, friends and patrons. Judge Sholes saying, “We cigar aficionados are a strange lot – we just want to be left alone, in the quiet of our lounge while enjoying a cigar,” didn’t hurt either. Cigar Rights of America was proud to offer testimony, noting the cigar culture that exists in this iconic American city, historically, and to this day.
The vote came after the debate. The tally board on the wall told the story: 5-1, and La Habana Hemingway cigar lounge wins. You know the strategy was sound, when the sponsor of the city smoking ban, was one of the five.
We’ll see you at La Habana Hemingway, when the trade show rolls into town.