Where are you from? How'd you get to D.C.?
I'm a native Washingtonian -- born in Bethesda and went to Gonzaga College High School in D.C. I worked around the world in the hotel business, retired in 1999 and proved you can come home again when I returned and bought Shelly's in 2000.
How did you get into the cigar business?
I was introduced to cigars when I bought Shelly's. I had a lot of hospitality business experience and knew how to treat customers, but I really knew very little about cigar culture. I have become acclimated to the cigar world through my 12 years owning and running Shelly's and interacting with patrons, many of whom I'm proud to now call friends.
Why did you keep Shelly's name?
It had a better ring to it than Bob's Back Room.
What's your secret to success?
Shelly's Back Room is a unique venue. The initial draw to cigar aficionados is the smoke-friendly environment. But the ambiance, state-of-the-art air filtration system, attentive staff, extensive selection of rare libations and cigars and our very good bar food are what keeps our customers coming back.
Who are some of the pols and celebs that come in?
I wouldn't keep those folks as customers if I blabbed their names all over the place. We have lots of politicians who enjoy coming to Shelly's to relax, enjoy a cigar and a good meal. And we see a fair number of movie/TV stars who are in town for one reason or another and enjoy the Shelly's experience. OK, I'll give you one; he used to be a film star -- and a governor.
-- Scott McCabe