A whiskey and cigar lounge coming to Gastonia's Main Avenue has some downtown boosters over-the-top excited.
WhiskGars Cigar and Whiskey lounge should open by the end of February near the intersection of South Street and Main Avenue, according to owner Jacob Hibberts.
“We view this corner as the Rolls-Royce of Gastonia, and we want to help set a new standard for businesses coming in the area with WhiskGars,” said real estate developer Tom McPhaul.
The 90-year-old building, located at 190 W. Main Ave., operated as Gastonia’s main post office before the 1930s and afterward it operated as Pollock’s Shoes and Diana Shops.
But a high-end, private whiskey and cigar lounge represents a continued resurgence for a downtown where new apartments and restaurants are already coming.
“We want to invite other businesses to this area to network because that's how you build community and that's what we want to do here," said McPhaul of Gastonia's downtown.
WhiskGars will be within walking distance of the Center City Crossing Apartments, expected to be completed at the end of 2023, new retail and condominium space, and a just-opened Mangiamo Italian restaurant.
The 1940s and 50s-themed lounge features leathers sofas and chairs, a 3,000-square-foot cocktail room that can seat about 80 people, and a full bar with a 36-foot granite-top bar.
A smoking area features an oversized photograph of former President John F. Kennedy smoking a cigar, porcelain tile, leather furniture and humidor where people can buy smokes.
WhiskGars will serve guests food from charcuterie boards and shrimp cocktails, and a full dessert menu.
The dual lounge option offers guests to visit WhiskGars and not be bothered by cigar smoke, but still allow them to network, said owner Jacob Hibberts of Gastonia.
“Some people don’t smoke cigars and I understand that, which is why the front room is non-smoking,” said Hibberts. “I want people to feel comfortable, have a good time and not worry about anything.”
A ventilation system and separate HVAC systems between the two lounges will help cut down on smoke migration, he said.
The back rooms include about 2,500 square feet for the cigar lounge, VIP room and humidor where guests can purchase and smoke cigars.
The cigar lounge can seat about 40 people and the VIP room will seat about 20 people.
“No one has to worry about getting up for drinks, too, since we will have cocktail servers walking around,” said Hibberts.
Hibberts, 24, was inspired to open the cigar lounge five years ago when he started smoking cigars with his father, who also owns Gastonia-based Progressive Machine Works.
“I probably visited 100 cigar lounges across the U.S., before starting this one,” said Hibberts. “I saw how a lot of them only had the cigar part but I wanted to offer people the best of both worlds with the cocktail lounge.”
Guests to WhiskGars can expect live jazz music on the weekends and special events throughout the year like a Kentucky Derby party, Gatsby-themed nights and wine and cheese pairing events, Hibberts said.
“I want it to be a laid-back, cool and ritzy atmosphere,” said Hibberts. “This is a place where people can host their business meetings and relax with some friends and family.”
Cost to enter
Daily entry into the lounge costs $10 and allows guests to experience the cigar, cocktail and humidor areas.
The annual, or "Silver," membership costs $50 and the lifetime membership costs $500. Both memberships allow guests to experience the cigar and cocktail lounges and the humidor space.
The VIP, or "Diamond," membership costs $1,500 and allows guests access to the VIP cigar lounge, a personal humidifier cigar locker, discounts on purchases and priority access to lounge events.
Only 75 spots are available for the VIP membership and half of the spots are already sold out.
Reach Janiya Winchester at 704-869-1842 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on The Gaston Gazette: WhiskGars Cigar and Whiskey lounge coming to Gastonia's Main Avenue