Hey Cigar Pals: I visited Summit Cigar Lounge last summer and thought that we were going to get this in a national publication, so I never posted it on here, but since that didn’t happen, I’m gonna post it now.
Deb and I were recently looking for things to do in Billings Montana and I was trying to check out the cigar scene, which when it comes to cigar pals adventures, is almost nonexistent.
I said almost, because while visiting Bryan Mussard of Cattle Baron Cigars he told me about Summit cigar lounge, which is a private lounge. I was also told about this place from some folks in Misoula while attending Smoke on the Water, Fire In The Hole.
Montana is not cigar friendly and while they allow cigar sales (highly taxed) they aren’t in favor of good ol boys hangin out enjoying a stick and cigar smokers have very few options for socializing.
So basically there are only two private clubs in MT, one being Fools End in Misoula and the other being Summit in Billings.
I have been passing through Billings for many years and I usually pick up cigars at Tobacco Row, which is a tobacco outlet, but has a pretty nice humidor with many faces and since I usually just blast through Billings, I have never really investigated the cigar scene.
This time though, I knew that I would like to check out this private cigar lounge. I really didn’t have a lot of info about the place, but I knew there was a cigar shop downtown that I thought had a lounge called Stogies.
Instead of boon docking (camping for free with no amenities) outside of town, I pretty much insisted that we camp at a pay campground close to downtown, so we could have easy access to my clan.
So we stopped by Stogies and found out they do not have a lounge, but they have a pretty nice humidor and we picked up some treasures in there.
We talked to the attendant Blake and he told us that Jessie Colmen and Brandon Marsh own Stogies, and are also the owners of Big Sky Cigars, which I will be reviewing soon.
Blake also told us about Summit Cigar Lounge and told us they were a block over and two blocks down from Stogies.
Blake is a very personable guy and we had a lot of fun visiting with him.
Don’t Outrun Your Adventure
After we left Stogies, we still had to figure out how to contact the folks at Summit.
Deb found a number on Google and I called and left a message and a while later, I was contacted by Greg Franks and he said he had left the lounge about an hour earlier and wasn’t planning to return that evening.
He asked how long we planned to be in Billings and I said we were just going to be there overnight, because we were heading for Sturgis.
He extended the invitation, that if we were back in town and gave a little more notice, he would be happy to show us, one of the nicest lounges east of the Mississippi.
Then he said, and I quote “write about missed opportunities”…..
Now one of my first posts was titled ‘Don’t outrun your adventure. That has pretty much been my motto and I decided right then that I would not miss this one, so….
I texted Greg and asked if we could visit the Summit the next day, and he said that would be possible, so we stayed an extra day and had no regrets about that decision.
We met Greg at the Summit the next afternoon at about 4:30 and he took us downstairs into the basement through two electronic key readers.
We were the only ones there at first.
Greg seemed a little cool early on and I found out the reason for this a little later.
Basically, because of the strict laws in Montana about smoking in public places, they are constantly under the threat of legal action from the government, so the cigar lounge eco system if very fragile and Greg has his guard up against any invasion.
We were outsiders and I believe he was feeling us out, but it didn’t take long before his humorous personality broke through and he turned out to be a very entertaining host.
A short time later, his wife Wendy showed up and then more and more of his regulars trickled in and he revealed that he had let them know that we were going to be there.
I was quite honored that he did that, not knowing much about Cigar Pals.
The Summit is quite large and very comfortably set up with leather chairs and couches and a wrap around bar and some big screen TV’s and they even have a baby grand piano and a chess board.
Everything is self serve and they don’t sell anything. They have lockers for their members and refrigerators for members to keep their beverages of choice. Members provide their own cigars.
Most cigar lounges that I visit, I anticipate purchasing some cigars from them, so the cigars that I had on me were my everyday bundles and not very exciting.
Those who were already there were smoking some nice sticks, and I was kinda disappointed with what I was smoking, but after I finished my first stick, Greg offered me his key card, so I could go to the truck and get something better to smoke.
Recently I have been running into CAO Amazon series cigars and I always grab them when I see them, especially since I had not been able to find any offering in close to a year.
I was stocked up and, I grabbed several of them and brought them in and handed them out (I think my prestige may have amped up a notch or two when I did that)!
We had a great time visiting with everyone and they were very enthusiastic and being the aficionado (big mouth) that I am, I got to share some new things that I had recently learned about how to smoke a cigar with them.
We also talked about Guitars and Cigars, my other blog.
The Summit is open 24 hours to its members who have their own key card.
They can come and go at their leisure, and are expected to clean up after themselves.
The price for membership is $67 a month, which seems to me to be quite a bargain.
As we talked, one of the things that stood out among the members we met was the camaraderie they have found with the other members.
They are confidant that they have formulated life long friendships, that would not have come to be, if not for the Summit.
Remember that in Montana, they only have two private lounges in the entire state, so the opportunities to gather and form this type of bond are few and far between.
The members are a diverse lot, ranging from Tim who has Arrowhead Marketing co. Jason is the server technician for a hospital, Dana works selling screws to hardware stores, Rob is a principal consulting engineer. Greg has a security company and Wendy does the books and home schools.
Greg waxed poetic and informed me that the “Summit is a place where the lost art of conversations is regained”.
I talk about this often, how when it comes to cigars, you might find a blue collar worker smoking with a fortune 500 CEO, because cigars level the playing field and all that is required is the shared love of a fine cigar.
Cigar Folks Are Special
I find that as a rule, brothers and sisters of the leaf are an amazing group of people, who not only share a love of fine premium cigars, but share a bond like I have rarely seen among the human race.
I appreciate the fact that wherever I go in these troubled times, it’s nice to know that, if there is a cigar lounge, I will probably be welcome as one of the family and the Summit is another fine example of that spirit.