BEST CIGAR SHOP / TOBACCONIST Minneapolis 1998 -
A downtown fixture since 1949, Lewis Pipe & Tobacco (known for years simply as The Smoke Shop) is a habit-forming spot for puffers of every stripe. College kids on their way to a downtown dive will stop in for a pack of Luckies; hotshot lawyers will swing by for the fine cigars used to celebrate settlements; and part-time academics will take a break from the nearby public library to pack a bowl or two of pipe tobacco. Owned and managed by Rich Lewis, who inherited the business from his father John, the closet-sized space is the only shop in the state where cigar aficionados can find Davidoffs: The Swiss company--which rolls its handmade cigars in the Dominican Republic--only authorizes select, long-standing dealers to sell their smooth-smoking, Cuban-like tobacco. But it's not the cigars that keep Lewis coming to work day after day. It's the pipes, which he makes himself in a private workshop downstairs and sells for between $100 and $400 to collectors at local and regional conventions. He also calls himself the "national repairman" for U.S. pipe makers who don't want to ship their defects to Europe. "Sure, the cigar fad is running out," he says. "But pipes are making a comeback."