NOBLEMEN MEMBERS—In front, Rev. Michael Smith, Harold Denson and Judge Kevin Cooper Jr. In back, Lee Kirkwood, Shawn Hall, Shawn Hall, Kevin Cooper, Sheldon Oliver, Greg Washington and Rahim El. (Photos by Courier photographer Jacquelyn McDonald)
More than just a place for cigar aficionados to go to enjoy a good puff and relax, or for non-smokers to enjoy conversation, food, and an all-around good time, Noblemen Cigar Lounge, the newest addition to the Pittsburgh area, is an establishment of brotherhood, nobility and love for the community.
Since its opening in June, Noblemen Cigar Lounge, located at 9805 Frankstown Rd., in Penn Hills, has been taking the Pittsburgh area by storm with its daily entertainment; diverse menu consisting of chicken, salmon and lamb chops, just to name a few; and the overall vibe of the environment.
It’s a place where men and women can come and “feel the love,” Sheldon Oliver, CEO & owner of Noblemen Cigar Lounge, told the New Pittsburgh Courier. “They can see noble men doing noble things, and see noble women doing noble things.”
He also said the lounge is a place where kings and queens can come for a good time and feel that “noble love” while they’re there.
At the lounge, there is something for everyone, from First Responders Day on Mondays; Taco and Karaoke on Tuesdays; Port Authority Day and $1 Wings on Wednesdays; Ladies Night (Pink Night) on Thursdays; Live Jazz and R&B on Fridays and Saturdays; and Brunch and Poetry on Sundays.
But it’s that “noble love” that makes this particular cigar lounge stand out, according to Tina Mollett. She’s a Penn Hills resident who was visiting the cigar lounge for the third time when she spoke to the Courier.
“I love the atmosphere—it’s very comfortable, it’s very relaxing and it’s enjoyable…I truly hope the community will continue to support this Black business. Because when you get to be 30, 40-plus, you want somewhere nice to go. You have your local bars, which are great, but this is somewhere nice where you can just come out, relax or (go) in the evening, on your way home from work.”
Established on the foundation of wanting to give people in the community a safe, loving space where they can enjoy themselves, Noblemen Cigar Lounge was birthed from the vision of the Noblemen organization, a brotherhood of 13 Black men with a strong commitment to what they call the 5 C’s—Christ, Character, Community, Camaraderie and the Calling of being noble men.
Their foundational scripture is Isaiah 32:8: “But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand” (New International Version).
According to the organization’s president and a founding member, Rev. Michael Smith, pastor of Destiny International Ministries in Lincoln-Lemington, the Noblemen organization started five years ago when a group of men would get together to bowl. Each week, after bowling, they would gather next door, at a local establishment, to relax, smoke cigars and talk about their lives. As time went by, more men would gravitate to them; it was then that they realized they had something special and established the Noblemen organization.
NOBLEMEN MEMBERS—Lee Kirkwood, Harold Denson, Rahim El, Rev. Michael Smith, Sheldon Oliver, Shawn Hall, Kevin Cooper, Greg Washington, Judge Kevin Cooper, Jr. and Shawn Hall. (Photos by Jackie McDonald)
As the group grew, the founders came up with a process for men to join the organization. Smith and Oliver, the organization’s vice president, explained that the membership process includes being sponsored by a member and going through a 90-day trial period. During that time, potential members are given various tasks to ensure that they can demonstrate a commitment to the 5 C’s. At the end, the potential member is voted in and if they are approved, they become a member of the Noblemen and receive their own sacred “Noblemen glass.” If they are not approved, they are given the opportunity to go through the process again.
NOBLEMEN MEMBER, RAHIM EL
Rahim El, of Homewood, a Noblemen member and co-owner of Life Now Insurance Agency, said the group is a healthy outlet where men can vent, encourage each other and hold each other accountable to being noble men.
Other members of the Noblemen are Shawn Hall (from Homewood); Harold “H” Denson (from Homewood and Life Now Insurance Agency); Lee Kirkwood (the sergeant of arms and a founding member); Greg Washington (the treasurer and general manager of the cigar lounge); Allegheny County Magisterial District Court Judge Kevin Cooper Jr. (secretary); Kevin Cooper (a contractor of the organization and the vice president of the cigar lounge); Greg Logan (a contractor of the organization); Emmett Wilson; Justin Smith; and another Shawn Hall (also from Homewood).
Reverend Smith described the Noblemen organization as a “Fraternity of Faith” and said that while there are men with various pasts, backgrounds and professions, “we’re all equal.”
Oliver added that the group has made them better fathers, husbands, uncles and children.
NOBLEMEN PRESIDENT, REV. MICHAEL SMITH
It was roughly two years ago that the men decided they needed a place of their own, and the vision for the Noblemen Cigar Lounge was conceived. They purchased the vacant building that now houses the cigar lounge and on June 25 celebrated the grand opening.
Since the organization’s inception, the men have not missed a meeting and are dedicated to their creation. Through their organization and the cigar lounge, they plan to increase their presence in the community.
Misty Work, the bar manager, said the support has been overwhelming. “I think a lot of cigar lounges may have a brotherhood, but this is one like no other.”
Kirkwood said the cigar lounge gives a person an out-of-town feel. “I like to travel. You can go to any large city and you always (can find) a nice cigar lounge,” he told the Courier. “If you want to just sit and talk, you go to the cigar lounge. We brought that here, to (greater) Pittsburgh.”