Add a cigar bar to the list of entertainment options in Scott’s Addition.
RVA Tobacco Lounge opened earlier this month at 2906 W. Clay St. on the neighborhood’s eastern edge.
A leading player in the venture is developer and general contractor David Gammino of City & Guilds, who is a co-owner of the lounge and also its landlord.
The idea for the lounge came about after the closure of the local outpost of Old Virginia Tobacco Co., which shuttered its Carytown space at 3532 W. Cary St. in 2018. Gammino had been a regular there.
“Myself and a large group of people were suddenly without a home base,” he said.
Two former employees of Old Virginia, David Johnson and Nick Hazly, are co-owners of the Scott’s Addition lounge along with Gammino and Tom Gmelch, who is the owner of Method Woodworking and Design in Scott’s Addition.
The lounge will compete for the downtime of residents and workers in the growing neighborhood, which has been a magnet for new residential and commercial development in recent years and is home to an increasing number of entertainment and drinking options.
To that end, the lounge also serves a limited tapas menu and local beers in a bid to expand the spot’s appeal to non-smokers.
The lounge is 1,100 square feet, and Gammino added a patio to the property. He said $200,000 has been invested in the business, with about $150,000 of that for construction. Between the patio and the special ventilation system inherent to the cigar lounge model, Gammino felt confident a lounge concept could be sold to patrons in the age of coronavirus.
“That’s something you do for a cigar lounge anyway,” Gammino said of the high-end ventilator system needed to circulate cigar smoke out of the space. “It dovetails nicely with what the CDC says about the need for air circulation.”
Gammino added that a large segment of the business is retail sales, where customers will pop in to buy a couple cigars and leave.
The cigar venture comes as Gammino sold off a Fan apartment building to pave the way for an upcoming five-story, 60-unit apartment development he’s planning in Jackson Ward.