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New cigar shop rolls into El Dorado Hills

By: Art Garcia, Telegraph Correspondent
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EL DORADO HILLS CA - Bob Kiley and partner Eric Stanion aren’t just blowing smoke when they talk up their ambitious plans for the business they’ve opened in a former dry cleaning store. The pair, a previous state prison guard and a former banker, joined to open Art of Cigars as a cigar and wine lounge and art gallery in the rejuvenating Lake Forest Shopping Center in north El Dorado Hills. Kiley, 39 and never married, lives in Citrus Heights. He was a California Department of Corrections peace officer for nearly 11 years at the High Desert State Prison in Susanville. Stanion, 49, was a Bank of America corporate social responsibility and market manager for six years in Sacramento. He lives in El Dorado Hills with wife Leslie and 19-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son. The two met over — what else? — cigars in Murphys. They soon became friends in conversations about quality cigars and their mutual love for Hawaii and all things tropic, the theme of the store. Kiley owned a cigar store in Fair Oaks and was looking for a new partner while Stanion was in the market for a new career. Their love of cigars led to a partnership and the opening of Art of Cigars as a place for men and women to meet, watch Monday Night Football on a 50-inch TV, smoke premium hand-rolled cigars, play free poker and attend special events, such as wedding receptions. The shop offers free wi-fi. In January, the store plans to offer classes in hand-rolling cigars. It’s currently waiting for approval for a beer and wine license. Art of Cigars has blossomed from Kiley’s 200-square-foot shop in Fair Oaks to 1,100 square feet, space that includes a humidor and a poker table for six players. Anyone over age 21 is invited, including women, who Kiley says increasingly are into cigar smoking. “They’re mostly looking for small cigars with vanilla, peach, spice rum and cognac flavors,” he said. Some go for the Fat Boy, a medium-mild cigar hand-rolled in Nicaragua. “Anything having to do with cigars we carry, from cutters, lighters, ash trays and humidors to cigars priced from $5 to $15,” the latter the cost of a Fat Boy. “If the shop does well, we plan to build a larger humidor, maybe a walk-in, and maybe add personal lockers for our customers,” said Kiley, a native of the Philippines who grew up in Hawaii, where his Air Force lieutenant colonel father was stationed. He later was transferred to McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento. Also in the store’s plans are memberships, from gold to platinum, with special perks still to be determined. “We want to put on parking lot events, like car shows and wine tasting,” Kiley said. “We also want to give back to the community. We don’t want to be known as just a cigar lounge.” Artwork on display in the store is for sale. “There’s really nothing like this in town,” noted Stanion. “Friends have talked about having a place to go after 8 p.m., a place to have a glass of wine, a cigar and watch TV football. There’s a need for something like this in this part of town.” An upscale Mexican restaurant is scheduled to open across the parking lot from Art of Cigars, “one of the reasons we picked this spot,” he said. Asshok Sachdeva, owner of two Lake Forest Wines stores, including one near Art of Cigars, reacted to his new competitive neighbor with an “I don’t care” comment. “In this economy, people are not going to go over there and smoke a $5 cigar when they can get the same cigar here for $3,” he said. His store has been in the shopping center for 12 years and has a walk-in cigar humidor. El Dorado Hills has another cigar specialty store in Town Center, Adams Cigars. ----- SHOP TALK Who: Bob Kiley and Eric Stanion, co-owners What: Art of Cigars Where: 2222 Francisco Drive, Suite 470, El Dorado Hills Phone: (916) 939-1855 Online: artofcigars.com