When Erik Haynes builds a business, he does it with his hands.
The newly opened Redlands Cigar Shop is Haynes' craftsmanship from floor to moulding, furniture and all.
For the humidor, he had custom plywood made with AA grade Spanish cedar for the paneling and all of the detail is made out of red oak.
"It gives it a dark feel," he said. "Guys like that cave kind of feeling."
The woodwork above the humidor entrance is a replica of something he saw on Main Street in Disneyland, and there is a custom stained glass piece that reads, "Redlands Cigar.
Haynes was hired by the original owners in November, 2011, as the carpenter.
Months later one of the owners abandoned the project. Then, a few days before the shop was to open, the remaining owner was in a debilitating car accident.
Haynes ended up taking over as owner.
"Tim (Krug) offered it to me, and I didn't want it, but we didn't realize his hip was broken, and he would be out for six months," Haynes said. "I can help a guy out for a couple of weeks, but...."
Being a licensed general contractor, he finished building the lounge, opened the place at the beginning of December and has been running it by himself while Krug recuperates, which has been both a trial and an inspiration.
"I work seven days a week, 14 hours a day," he said. "The more I sit here, the better ideas I come up with."
The lounge was originally supposed to have a Victorian feel.
"Everything was supposed to be over-the-top opulent," he said. "Then I realized guys don't care about that. When you build your tree fort, you want a place to play. I'm building a community treehouse."
It's a place to smoke, play cards or dominoes, throw darts and share a dirty joke.
Haynes built the domino table using scraps of red oak from the humidor project. He didn't have any money for felt, so he took his Great Dane's blanket and used that.
"He's got other blankets," Haynes said. "I wanted to build something that was... you have to go to Vegas to find something as nice."
There's a domino game every day. Game pieces, poker chips, cards, coffee, water and bakery goods are all provided and complimentary.
There's a chess set, a putting green and three big-screen TVs, where people gather to watch sports.
Former Raiders player Mike Weaver comes in to root for the Green Bay Packers -- comes in almost every day, often with a Cheesehead.
Fortunately for the circumstances, the carpenter is cigar savvy. He describes himself as a 10-stick-a-day guy.
"The only way to get to be an expert on cigars is by smoking cigars," he said. "I smoke way too many cigars."
He doesn't put anything in his shop that he hasn't sampled, and he knows about the makers, the tobacco seeds, the aging and the history of each brand, not just the flavor.
"If you came to me and said, `I'm looking for a cigar, and I don't know what I'm doing,' I'd ask you questions and make recommendations. I'd figure out your flavor profile by knowing things like whether you would have it with Coke or scotch."
He pointed out one of his favorite brands, Wilson Adams, which is made by Ontario area men Brandon Wilson and Steve Miller.
"They're phenomenal," Haynes said. "Everybody that tries it comes back and gets more."
The Padron 1926 is the highest-end cigar Haynes sells at $22 a stick. Those are aged and have a nice, smooth burn, Haynes said.
He is currently building humidified lockers for patrons to rent, and the $10 monthly charge is membership into the club. Members will get a key to the building next door, to use any hour and with their invited guests.
This will be a place for those who are sent to the garage to smoke, or have nowhere.
"The tobacco laws are getting more restrictive. You want to get a big ol' fat ticket? Light up a cigar and walk down the street."
That facility is not yet built.
"I'm building this lounge on a stick-by-stick basis," Haynes said. "Every stick I sell gets me a step closer."
The shop is the only cigar lounge off the 10 in the stretch between Los Angeles and Palm Springs.
He says he's giving a better deal than the shops on both ends of the route.
"I'm selling a stick for $10, and they're selling it for $15 in Palm Springs. If you can save $50 on 10 sticks, why not pull of the freeway on your way to golfing or Morongo?"
His business sense and cigar knowledge are drawing customers from nearby towns already.
"This is the only place I've seen where females come in to smoke cigars," said Kumar Patel, owner of the Wigwam Motel on Route 66 in San Bernardino, who popped into the shop Friday morning to pick up some sticks.
The shop is at 732 Tennessee St. in Redlands.
Redlands Cigar Shop is participating in the Redlands High School alumni poker tournament today by donating four boxes of cigars (90 sticks) for the entrants.
It's a Texas Hold `Em poker tournament and dinner at the Portuguese American Club, 1133 Crafton Ave. in Mentone.
Dinner starts at 5 p.m., poker at 6 p.m. $100 for Poker and all you can eat and drink. $30 for all you can eat and drink.
For more information, contact email@example.com or 909-307-5500 x30709.
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