The outside lawn of Cigars in the Pass is unassuming and casual, with various chairs situated under the giant shade tree, welcoming you to sit and enjoy time with friends. The outdoor patio has a view of the beautiful gulf and surrounding city.
Walking inside, I felt like I had discovered a hidden gem. The space was warm and inviting with deep, rich colors. The artwork unique, tribal, and could ignite its own conversation. Comfortable leather chairs surrounding wooden tables invited me to relax, and stay a while. I noticed games like chess and dominoes. I could already feel the laughter and good, positive energy. The air was clean and aromatic.
As I stepped to the back, I was surprised to see a beautiful wooden bar with draft beer; thirteen taps to be exact, all craft beer from local or regional breweries. I was later told that it is the largest selection on the west side of the Gulf Coast. They even offer beer flights, which are not available in many places.
The humidor is quite impressive with about 100 faces of cigars, including Rocky Patel, Drew Estate, Brothers Cigars, Perdomo, Macanudo, and CAO, just to name a few. They sell an assortment of accessories essential to cigar smokers: tools such as lighters, cutters, travel and tabletop humidors, and a trendy, new piece made by Pat’s daughter. It’s called a nubber. It allows you to safely grip and hold your favorite stogie so that you can smoke it all the way to the end without burning your fingers.
After spending just a little bit of time there, I was curious to hear the story of how Cigars in the Pass came to be. I sat down with Patricia Holland, owner and visionary for the business. Pat is from New Orleans but lived in places like San Francisco, Baltimore, and Atlanta before she returned home with her husband, Daniel, seven years ago. The two of them would find themselves as a one income family from time to time as the job market would fluctuate. Pat was retired from Fedex, had run a nonprofit, and was a land resources disposition planner for a major metropolitan area. But now, she began to think outside of that box. "How do we control our own income and career?” They wanted a business they could both invest in and grow with. Pat asked herself, "What do you want to do? What are you willing to do every day, and what makes sense economically?”
Then one day, a hobby turned into an ah-ha moment. While at a Jazz Fest, Pat noticed how many people were enjoying cigars. She also became aware of how few sellers of cigars there were in the surrounding areas. So although her husband was an avid smoker himself, Pat began to look at that same thing from a different perspective. Could they have a cigar business? What would that look like? Well, in 2013, Pat and her husband started a vendor business, a 24’ humidor on wheels. They would travel together in their trailer with their dog Max from New Orleans through the Mississippi Coast to Atlanta and Florida, and anywhere in between. They would go to organized events and spent most of their time at festivals since that was familiar and offered the greatest need for their service. They were available at private parties, local restaurants, mixology conventions, and breweries for cigar and beer pairings.
During their travels, they would meet a lot of new friends, cigar enthusiasts. One in particular asked if they would consider parking for a while and opening a brick and mortar business with a lounge where they could all gather. Business was good for Pat. She enjoyed her travels. However, the suggestion stuck with her. There was a building for lease in the small downtown area of Pass Christian that had been recommended to them. Pat and her husband discussed it and decided to consider the option. They loaded up the trailer, along with Max, and drove down to the Pass to check out the space.
Unfortunately, the building would not quite work for their purposes. A little disappointed, but still encouraged to move forward with the dream, they took the dog for a walk to clear their heads and take in the scenery of the Pass. A beautiful tree loomed up in front of them in one of the yards, and, in typical canine fashion, Max trotted right over to it and relieved himself. As fate would have it, a "For Lease” sign was right there in front of them.
The spacious yard with the giant shade tree held a house that was perfect for what they wanted to create. They signed the lease, bought a home in the area, and in mid-2014, opened Cigars in the Pass.
Pat is grateful to see her business offer patrons a place to be happy, relaxed, and "just to let go of the anxieties of life.” People come and hang out, and enjoy conversation and relationship with others across the table.
One such person is Cliff, a familiar face around the bar. He calls the shop a time warp. Cliff, retired military, went into the shop for the first time to have a beer after a particularly rough day. Five hours later he realized the time. The ambiance, people, conversation, and the camaraderie had given him the respite he needed. He began bringing friends and becoming more of a fixture, helping out around the place. He even offered to watch over the business when Pat would need to go out of town. She trusted him completely and considers him a generous soul. Once the business grew enough, Pat offered Cliff a permanent position, her chance to give back. They have built a strong friendship that is evident in their service.
In the heart of the lounge is a barber’s chair. It sits empty for now as they search for a barber that can give a great straight razor shave.
You can feel the gracious, welcoming energy at Cigars in the Pass. There are seven smoke eaters throughout to clear the smoke and keep the atmosphere fresh. This is a place where you can bring your friends, or make new ones. Relax with a craft beer or BYOB, while enjoying a cigar. Let the staff walk you through the process of picking a good one just for you, and learn about the art of the cut.
Pat hosts a cigar pairing at Mosaics in Ocean Springs on Tuesday nights. The libation varies. Whiskey, scotch, wine, and beer have all been chosen as a complement to a particular brand of cigar. For those who wish to stay local on Tuesday, stop by her shop for movie night, where the guests choose the film. Wednesday nights are occasionally for live music. Thursday nights are for football, and Friday is game night with the staff. Enjoy $1 off drafts.
Join your friends for a latin inspired evening, Havana Nights, with music, Fedora hat contest, and a cigar maker from La Palina Cigars. October 20, 5-9 pm. And be on the lookout for your next Paint and Sip coming in November.
Follow on FaceBook or Instagram @cigarsinthepass for all the events. Coming soon to FaceBook: an online cigar club that is gulf coast specific, Gulf Coast Smokers. https://www.facebook.com/CigarsinthePass/