Brian and Seana Bolen post at their company, Smoldering Cigar, in Livermore.
LIVERMORE – Tucked away in Livermore is the cigar shop and smokehouse called Smoldering Cigar.
On October 23, 2021, husband and wife Brian and Seana Bolen opened the Smoldering Cigar as a place to relax and enjoy cigars.
“One of the few wonderful things I love about cigars is that when you smoke a cigar, it doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter what type of cigar, from a $2 cigar to $2,000 , you are around people who do the same thing”, said Brian Bolen. “They’re trying to relax, they’re enjoying something. They take time. And so it’s more of a camaraderie type deal because your background doesn’t matter. Nobody cares. You just smoke a cigar, and that’s what we have in common.
Seana Bolen added that “You spend so much money, you don’t get up and run around and you don’t think about your job. You’re just sitting there enjoying your life.
The Bolens highlighted how the lounge is a place for socializing with cigars functioning as an immediate topic of conversation, so they both work to create the atmosphere.
The Smoldering Cigar is located at 411 Fourth Ave. at Livermore. The hours are from noon to 7 p.m. from Wednesday to Saturday. It is closed on Monday and Tuesday.
The couple renovated the entire building with the help of their family so that it could function in the best possible way for cigars. The Smoldering Cigar has a room with humidity control and Spanish cedar woodwork where the cigars are stored. Seana Bolen said Spanish cedar is used because it is the type of wood least likely to affect the taste of the cigar. Along with this, the main room has chairs and a TV for lounging and smoking. The whole building has a system of filters called bunnies that suck smoke into the room so it doesn’t smell. The main area has stained wooden walls which create a warm atmosphere to the place. One wall features a mural made from the cigar bands that people have smoked there. The Bolens are also working on a rear lounge with more seating, TVs and other amenities. It also features stained glass windows by Brian Bolen. As they continue to work on improving the shop, they also plan to install humidity-controlled lockers so people can store their cigars and come back to them.
The shop also sells cigar accessories and necessities like ashtrays and cutting devices.
One service the Bolens highlighted was how they keep a diary of the cigars their customers smoke. Asked about this program, Seana Bolen said “If you come in and you don’t know what type it was because you’re new, we can tell you what type it was.”
According to the Bolens, this highlights the main difference between the Smoldering Cigar and other cigar shops: customer service. The Bolens prioritize customer service and building a community with their customers. Where the Bolens want the store to shine is in the experience a customer can have in their salon, whether for regular customers or new smokers.
Brian Bolen had bad experiences when he started smoking. He wants to eliminate that possibility for others and fill the void of a mentor in a sense. He wants to give someone the full package for what they are buying and have them have a wonderful time. He says he knows how difficult it can be at first, so he makes his knowledge available to all of his customers to make sure they have a great time.
A wide variety of cigars are available at Smoldering Cigar.
“That’s the main point I want people to understand about what I got out of building this store,” said Brian Bolen. “It’s not necessarily a question of money. I need it to keep the store open and buy this and that, but all the money goes back into the store.
With the amount of knowledge that Brian Bolen had to acquire about cigars, he became able to recommend a cigar based on a customer’s taste profile. He compared smoking cigars to wine because you don’t inhale the smoke from the cigar.
“It’s like sipping wine” he said. “There are flavor profiles in every cigar. And so you’re just trying to pull them off.
During a demonstration, Brian Bolen showed how he would find a cigar to recommend. He begins by asking them if they have ever smoked. If not, it then moves on to the types of drinks the customer likes. If they like coffee or sweeter drinks like soda. It tries to pinpoint the type of flavors that attract the customer the most, such as floral flavors, sweet flavors or a more peppery flavor. He also knows what to recommend based on the type of drink you plan to pair with the cigar. After that, he tells you how good you are at smoking a cigar. After opting for stronger cigars, they introduce a range of more subtle flavors reminiscent of the comparison of wines. Brian Bolen also clarified that his recommendations are ultimately his opinion, but he is happy to help guide a client in any way possible.
The Bolens opened the Smoldering Cigar to create a place where people can relax and enjoy something they themselves love, and they provide a service that puts the customer experience first.
The lounge area invites people to sit down and relax while smoking a cigar.
Smoldering Cigar is located at 411 Fourth Ave. at Livermore. The hours are from noon to 7 p.m. from Wednesday to Saturday. It is closed on Monday and Tuesday.
Brian Bolen presents a collage made from the bands wrapped around the cigars sold in the company.
Brian Bolen demonstrates how to cut a cigar before smoking it.