A friendship born from a bet on a lobster dinner has become something York County has never seen before.
The Royal Cigar Bar & Bistro is now open in Fort Mill.
A grand opening is scheduled for June 4. The 3,000 square foot spot not far from Carowinds combines an upscale cigar lounge with a bespoke bar and full restaurant.
“It’s not a nightclub,” said co-owner Maliek Carrington, a partner in the new venture with husband-and-wife couple David and Shantelle Cintron. “This is not a bar. We are a cigar bar and a bistro. Imagine being able to smoke a cigar in a restaurant and relax, because they are all like-minded people.
The company at 338 Springhill Farm Road has a custom humidor with Julius Caeser, Plasencia, White Label and other cigars. There are chocolates to accompany them.
The cellar opens at 2 p.m. every day except Tuesday. The restaurant opens at 5 p.m. Annual memberships cost $25 for access to the main lounge in front of the bar, or $250 with full access to a variety of private rooms and some discounts.
“We’re doing something other people can’t do,” Carrington said.
The only permit was significant, to allow smoking with a restaurant and bar. Many smokehouses bring in outside food trucks, but it was important for the owners to have everything in-house.
“The three of us were here every day for nine months working on this,” Carrington said. “It was a small abandoned warehouse. We found it to be empty. We have done everything. It really is a restaurant that has a bar as an accessory. It is a restaurant with a cigar (bar) as an accessory. So we followed all the laws and rules.
Shantelle Cintron, event planner, has always wanted to have her own restaurant. She will have a Caribbean menu, among other things.
“Fried snapper, chicken curry, salmon bites, chicken wings,” Shantelle Cintron said. “I’ve cooked all my life.”
Carrington has a real estate company with nearly 20 people and teaches 15-20 heating and air conditioning students a year through SC Works. The Cintrons moved to the area more than two years ago from New York, and it was an HVAC class — David is an entrepreneur — where the co-owners first met.
On the first day of class, Carrington offered to treat the student with the highest grades to a lobster dinner.
“I said make the butter and the cracker, bro, because I’m going to be that person,” David Cintron said. “And I was.”
The pair have spoken, flipped a few houses together, and considered future partnerships.
“What do we really want to do for the community?” said David Cintron. “What is our passion? And that’s all.
For Carrington, a Lake Wylie resident who is committed to keeping his businesses on the South Carolina side of the state line, it’s about improving and contributing to the region.
“Charlotte has had enough,” he said. “And a lot of people from Charlotte will come here, but I built this for South Carolina.”
The location should benefit the business.
“Individuals have nowhere to go in this area for a good cigar,” Carrington said. “We have Pineville, Rock Hill, Charlotte, Fort Mill – all within two to three minutes.”
The owners hope the new venture will bring communities together.
Bike, ladies and Latino nights are planned, as well as an evening that will cater to workers in the hair and beauty salon industry. There will be a Caribbean evening. Friday nights will be bourbon and bow ties, where people can dress up for a night out. The owners see the new place as a privileged place for social and business networks.
Carrington said people often don’t want to smoke in their homes, one reason cigar bars have been doing well lately.
“During the pandemic, wine sales went up, cigar sales went up,” Carrington said. “Because we had to find things, so we didn’t realize our kids were so bad. Now you’re stuck at home with them for two years, realizing there’s a reason that teacher wrote to you, “Come get little mama.”
The Cintrons, with seven adult children, scoff at this explanation.
“I don’t know if that’s what it is, but I learned to smoke cigars once I met him,” David Cintron said. “I’ve never really smoked cigars in my life. I’ve tried it here and there for occasions, someone is getting married or something. But he made me discover this cigar culture and I really liked it.
The reason, said David Cintron, is that in various stops at cigar spots throughout the region – before its own opening – there was a consistent theme. People came together and had a conversation beyond the surface. He found a place to network, socialize and learn.
Something the royal owners hope to replicate, but in a new and fresh way in the region.
“We made history with this one,” Carrington said.
This story was originally published May 20, 2022 3:26 p.m.