Bo's Cigar Lounges
A True Local Success Story with the Personal Touch
Bo had long dreamed of the opportunity to open his own business, pursue his passion for cigars, and create the kind of atmosphere and customer service that he found was often missing. Before he opened his lounge, Bo had retired, and he had taken time off to travel and pursue his passions, not the least of which is his love of cigars. As he traveled he was struck by what he perceived was the lack of personalized service and attention to the customer.
In May 2006, Bo's Cigar Lounge became a reality at 4501 E. Carson Street, in Long Beach, the former site of a used textbook store. It didn't take long for locals to see that something big was happening. "During our construction we set up tables and chairs, and my first customers smoked cigars in front of the shop," Bo recalls, and says with a smile, "We had as many or more customers before we officially opened than did many of our competitors." Indeed, what is clearly a family atmosphere was developed from the beginning. Some of Bo's first customers played important roles in the development of the business. "My customers had input about the furniture, the placement of the televisions, the cigars we stocked...everything." Bo says that his customers gained a true sense of ownership.
While the majority of Bo's customers are local, many travel long distances, coming from such locations as West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley to enjoy their love of cigars and the camaraderie. Bo likens his business to a "Cheers" of cigar lounges. The crowd at Bo's includes, but is not limited to CEOs, firefighters and police officers, plumbers, engineers, doctors and salesman.
Bo's family frequently includes large groups, who gather to watch "the big game," enjoy a special dinner event, or to celebrate special occasions. Last May, for example, Bo's celebrated its one-year anniversary. Customers brought deserts, snacks and even celebratory gifts. On July 4th, customers gather upstairs on their rooftop to watch the fireworks show at Vet's Stadium. Bo estimates that throughout that entire day over 200 customers packed the store. What makes all of this possible and brings all of the diverse customers together is an appreciation for cigars and a shared bond for the man behind it all...Bo Mouissat.
Amazingly, the store has opened every day since its May 2006 opening. In fact, Bo was not absent at the store for the first eight months. During those initial months he spent between 10 and 12 hours a day with his customers. But to Bo, the time spent at the lounge is not work, it is living a passion and spending time with family. Most notable is the presence of Bo's daughter, Mimi, who is a true business partner. Mimi recalls watching her father open the store one day. As he stood in the walk-in humidor, she noticed the smile on his face. "He looked like a kid in a candy store, thinking he could have any cigar he wanted."
A recent Business Management graduate, Mimi has put her education to work as she tends to the business aspects of the business. She assists her father with every aspect of the business, including counter sales, inventory, and accounting. While she tends to many of the details and the "bottom line," she says her father is "the idea guy." In fact, the store represents Bo's idea to create a home "away from home," or the ideal place to enjoy cigars.
Upon entering the lounge, one is seemingly transported to an old English private smoking club. Your attention is drawn to the wood paneling, the leather chairs and the burgundy colored walls. Against that backdrop are more modern features, including the four big screen televisions and the extensive collection of sports memorabilia, including signed jerseys, footballs and pictures. The lounge represents the kind of dream room his regulars and newer customers would like to have in their own homes.
One of the many "regulars" at Bo's is Don, an original store customer. Don expressed the feelings shared by many. "If you enjoy people this is a great place to hang out...and the atmosphere is second to none." Some at Bo's have become such trusted friends that they frequently assist behind the counter and run the shop in Bo's absence. Bo recalls that during a recent hospital stay, customers visited him, took the store keys and opened and closed the store in his absence. "My customers take better care of the store than I do," Bo says with a big smile.
Bo has many future special events scheduled, including a March 17, 2008, St. Patrick's 5th Annual Jameson Open Golf Tournament, featuring Bo's Cigars, which will be held at Lakewood Country Club. The profits from which will go to the Catholic Baseball League. Bo frequently donates to local schools and charitable organizations.
When he isn't donating to worthy causes, Bo demonstrates his charitable nature daily at the lounge. He provides his customers with complimentary coffee, sodas or water while in the store. He has also been known to hand out cigars or offer some at significant discounts. "I don't believe in pressuring customers. It's not about the sale, it's about service."
Bo's is truly a full service Cigar retailer. He not only sells premium cigars at competitive prices, he also carries an extensive line of cigar accessories, including humidors, cigar cutters, hats, t-shirts, magazines and more. BO's Cigar Lounge is open Sunday - Thursday from 10am to 10 pm, and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Bo is quick to note, however, that those hours are extremely flexible. "If my customers are enjoying themselves, watching a movie or sporting event, or simply talking, we stay open."
Stay open Bo does. In fact, Bo's is open on all major holidays. As Mimi notes, "Holidays have become special times here. Our customers with no family or family members out of town now have a place to gather on these special occasions." Bo's also plays host to business meetings, bible study groups and other special events. The lounge also features the NFL Sunday Ticket football package and all the biggest sporting events. Bo even has a TV in the bathroom so fans don't miss a second of the action.
For now, Bo is looking toward the future, and he plans to be around for a long time. When many predicted that making a profit would take some time, Bo became successful from the beginning. Recently, Bo received unexpected affirmation when he learned that his customers had nominated him for the MYFOXLA (Channel 11 News) Hotlist 2007 search for the best cigar lounge in the metropolitan Los Angeles area. Bo let his customers know via word of mouth and through his website, WWW.BOKNOWSCIGARS.COM, to vote for his shop as part of the online poll. Soon thereafter, Bo received a congratulatory letter from Channel 11 notifying him that Bo's Cigar Lounge was the winner. To celebrate, Bo recently held a party as a way to say "thanks" to his loyal customers. As usual, the place was packed.
Now, many are learning what Bo and his loyal following have known for some time—that Bo's is simply the best place around to enjoy fine cigars, a great place to hang out with friends, and a true local success story with the personal touch.