Anthony Cox has big plans for his Birdies and Barrels business. The one that has caught the attention of many around Somerset is the inclusion of a cigar bar – or cigar lounge, however you want to put it.
But that’s only part of what the new business will have when it opens. He plans to have a more traditional type of bar, gaming pods – one for an Xbox, one for a PlayStation – and at least two golf simulators so anyone can gather their friends and play a round on some of the best-known courses in the country.
And all of that, if all goes to plan, will be kept so separate that the golfers, gamers and drink patrons won’t know there’s any smoking going on near them at all.
The cigar lounge will be in an enclosed room on the second floor of the building, which can be found at the corner of East Mount Vernon and Maple streets.
The lounge fronts East Mount Vernon and has large windows, so that future cigar smokers can overlook the buildings and traffic of downtown Somerset while they relax.
The room is around 10 feet by 21 feet large, giving enough room for up to 10 people at a time.
A partition will separate the cigar lounge from the rest of the second floor, with a glass door that will be sealed, Cox said. High-grade caulking will be added around the walls “so nothing can go out,” he said.
He is adding a special commercial-grade ventilation system to filter and push the air to the outside, he said.
“It’s not going to seep out, he said of the smoke. “If someone wants to bring their kid up to hit golf balls or something like that, there’s not going to be any smoke outside of that little room.”
He said he hasn’t heard any complaints about the potential business in person. He said he did see the letter to the editor of the Commonwealth Journal submitted by Dr. Timothy Mullett and some of the responses to in on social media.
“Four or five people looked like they weren’t very happy with it, but I think they had the misconception that this was all going to be open to smoking, which I absolutely do not want to do. You would ruin a very nice bourbon if it was just nothing but smoke in here,” he laughed.
Cox added, “We don’t want any smoke to filter out anywhere else. You’re going to ruin everything else we’ve got going on in here.”
That “everything else” includes two golf simulators, using a package that would allow people to virtually play courses like those at Pebble Beach and St. Andrews.
Cox said he plans for in six months to a year to add a third simulator that will be in a private room that people can rent out for parties or lessons from a golf pro.
All that is also on the second floor with the cigar lounge. The first floor will have a 20-foot bar that will mainly cater to bourbon drinkers, but will also have seven taps with a rotation of beers, including at least one local Jarfly brew on hand.
Cox said there will also be a few other liquors, like tequila, but the majority of the shelf space will be dedicated to bourbon.
The downstairs will also have two gaming pods, one for an Xbox and one for a PlayStation, that can be used either for a gaming tournament or for a group of friends who want to spend some time together.
The humidor will also be downstairs, with Cox saying he plans on having $10,000 of cigar inventory at any given time. Patrons will buy the cigars and supplies downstairs, and can take them up to the lounge or back home, depending on their interests.
The Birdies and Barrels’ back room will only have charcuterie boards on hand in terms of food, but Cox said he plans to partner with the adjacent restaurant, Granny’s Grab ‘n’ Go, to bring more substantial food in.
The building is undergoing some extensive remodeling right now, and Cox said the hope is to open in November, but that depends on the contractors.
He estimates that the hours of operation will be noon to midnight.
Cox admits he’s never run this type of business before, or any of its components. His career before this was in the staffing industry, most recently working for Adecco Staffing, out of its Jacksonville, Fla., office but working in Louisville with national clients.
Cox said he retired from that industry, and felt this business was the direction he wanted to go.
“This will be a nice change of pace,” he said, adding that he feels like it will be less stressful.
So why did he choose a city with a non-smoking ordinance in place to try to open a cigar bar? He said it’s because he’s impressed with the improvements to downtown Somerset, mentioning businesses like the Mole Hole, Charred Oak Grill and Serendipity at the Orange Door, and he said he expects the Virginia Theater, when it’s renovated and turned into an entertainment venue, will also be an asset.
“What they’ve done, [Mayor Alan] Keck and the council, to get all of this in here, I want to complement it,” he said.