Hospitality & Tourism  June 18, 2024

There’s no blowing smoke: Greeley’s first cigar lounge set to become reality

GREELEY — Imagine this. You’ve had a great night downtown but you don’t want it to end just yet. Or maybe you just want to enjoy a place to sit with others who share your love for a stogie and the good conversation that usually ensues.

Local Realtor Brad Inhulsen pictures this so much that he’s ready to bring it to the masses — a cigar lounge and club in an historic building in downtown Greeley.

While there are still multiple pieces of this puzzle to fit just right, he has his heart set on turning the old Salzman’s Shoe & Boot Repair shop, 911 Eighth Ave., into his lounge. He’s also looking for investors.

“I want to talk to people who are interested in coming to a cigar lounge,” he said. “If it’s not your jam, that’s OK. I want people who are passionate about it, who want to come on a Friday night after Friday Fest, after seeing a concert at the UCCC, or, a fundraiser at the DoubleTree Hotel.”

Greeley has never had a cigar lounge, and there are only a couple speckling the Northern Colorado landscape, and a few more in Denver. But Inhulsen could be onto something. According to Cigar Aficionado magazine, 69% of 291 cigar-shop owners in the United States last year said 2023 sales were up year over year. 

Inhulsen has been experiencing this aesthetic somewhat on his own. He is a sponsor of the July 1 whiskey and cigar tasting at the Greeley Stampede, and it has sold out for the second straight year. He also started an impromptu men’s group, in which he and others talk politics, work, you name it over a stogie and a glass of whiskey.

“I started a group of guys in 2020, where we got together, talked shop, talked about nothing, talked about everything. We created a bond. … I envision a place where people are literally talking politics, religion, sports, work, or they’re having meetings,” he said. “It’s just a different environment that we don’t have in Greeley.”

Inhulsen has been a Realtor with Sears Real Estate for 12 years. His wife, Alexia Inhulsen, is a local chiropractor who owns Peake Wellness Center, 8201 W. 20th St. And this wouldn’t happen without her blessing, Inhulsen said.

Inhulsen’s idea is to create a club setting of sorts, where people can come in and have a cigar, buy accessories or tobacco, and ruminate about things swirling in their heads. He would even like to operate it as a country club, where members are billed monthly for their usage. An HVAC system would ensure the building didn’t get too smokey, or disturb business neighbors.

He hopes to get other downtown bars and restaurants involved, as well, by asking them to sell drinks and/or food to go (like they did during the Covid-19 Pandemic).

His lounge will not sell alcohol, but he said, if someone were to bring in a drink from another downtown bar, or bring their own bottle, he would not be opposed to it. Cigarette smoking would be prohibited, however.

He’s much further in the process than one would think. He got unanimous approval from the Greeley City Council last year. The hold-up has been getting his tobacco license from the state, which just came in the last month or so, he said.

Nothing has been set in stone, but he does have his heart set on the former Salzman Shoe & Boot Repair building, which he said needs hundreds of thousands of dollars in work, especially bringing a 124-year-old building to code with new electrical and plumbing. 

The Salzman family closed the business in 2017 after 82 years of personalized shoe and boot repair. Now, Inhulsen said, it’s just a big rectangle.

His plans include for the building, if he eventually lands there, are to put a rooftop patio on the building, which would necessitate a new structure be put in to support the weight, according to a project narrative filed with the city. Though he does have approval, he is submitting the project to the city planning department to ensure he meets all requirements in terms of having a fire suppression system, the right the number of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) bathrooms, and other elements, before he gets too far along in the idea.

“My goal has been to open it in 2024, but it’s looking like 2025 is more realistic,” he said.

Real estate agent Brad Inhulsen wants to open a cigar lounge and club in an historic building in downtown Greeley.

Sharon Dunn
Sharon Dunn is an award-winning journalist covering business, banking, real estate, energy, local government and crime in Northern Colorado since 1994. She began her journalism career in Alaska after graduating Metropolitan State College in Denver in 1992. She found her way back to Colorado, where she worked at the Greeley Tribune for 25 years. She has a master's degree in communications management from the University of Denver. She is married and has one grown daughter — and a beloved English pointer at her side while she writes. When not writing, you may find her enjoying embroidery and crochet projects, watching football, or kayaking and birdwatching on a high-mountain lake.
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