Want to Smoke, Drink and Eat? There’s an Old School Hold Out in Maine
Tucked away in a strip mall with Staples and Burlington Coat Factory lives a cigar smoker's dream come true in South Portland, Maine.
It's called Cafe Calabash at 425 Western Avenue in South Portland near the Jetport. It's been around for 33 years. Wait, a place that serves food, drinks and you can smoke? How is that even possible, since Maine passed a law banning smoking in bars and restaurants?
They did, but Cafe Calabash is under 2,000 square feet and more than 50% of its revenues come from the sale of tobacco and related products. That's how they got a smoke shop exemption under state law. The owner Ali Bahmani, who couldn't have been nicer, said he's worried that one day liberals will have him shut down. Since smoking is not what you would call acceptable behavior. It's funny to see ashtrays on tables.
Ali always has it in the back of his mind that his dream will end. But for 33 years, he's been the place...the last place, to smoke a cigar or cigarette, and enjoy a drink. But it's cigars that he specializes in. He has a walk-in humidor at the front of the shop that has an impressive collection of cigars. He showed me what he called the 'top of the line' cigars. They all looked the same to me.
It was wild being in there. I was only there briefly to say hi and ask permission to write about this throwback. Ali was warm, friendly, and couldn't wait to show me around. But he was also nervous as he likes to fly low under the radar. He's always waiting for that day when they tell him, he has to close his doors. I left smelling like I had been to a bar in the 80s. It was a funny memory. As his business card says,
Cigar Lovers Oasis.
More power to ya Ali.