Big Spring, Texas- We have come across quite a few man caves over the years on The Texas Bucket List: the Hemi Hideaway in Brookeshire, the Trophy Barbershop in Baytown and the TX Whiskey Distillery in Fort Worth just to name a few. When we pulled into Big Spring, we found another involving trains and cigars.
The Train Car Cigar Bar is a unique west Texas stop where the puffing isn’t coming from the locomotives.
Well, our slogan, I guess you’d call it is, “Casual interaction…,” Camilla Strande said. “Casual social interaction at its finest.”
Brent & Camilla Strande are the husband and wife duo who created this casual yet quirky stop known for cocktails, railcars and cigars.
“I like cigars and I enjoy cigars, but I was not [a heavy smoker],” Camilla said. “In fact, I would say that I probably only smoked about one cigar a month before we opened.”
Camilla is a local girl who fell in love with a man from North Dakota. That man had a really good idea for a unique business in Big Spring.
“It had always been a joke idea. He’d been saying, ‘I’m going to run a cigar shop.’ He’d been saying that for years,” Camilla said. “Yeah, we thought it was like this pipe dream that we were just kind of play with.”
In the summer of 2016, things got serious. In a matter of months, they opened the Train Car Cigar Bar.
“Everything was lining up, and we made a really good team, working together, which is … it wouldn’t have happened otherwise,” Brent said.
With a population around 30,000, Big Spring is not a big city. Somehow, this sort of establishment has found its niche and people are puffing away at this peculiar place to passively pass the day. Put that in your pipe….I mean cigar, and smoke it.
“It’s relaxing,” Brent said. “You can get time to collect your thoughts. We’ve got guys that will come in here and read a book. That’s one of the things I like, is that it’s kind of a throwback to a simpler time, or a simpler lifestyle.”
Over the years, several businesses tried to make the unique rail car location a success. From stores to sandwich shops, they all came close to succeeding but no cigar.
“Everybody said Big Spring wasn’t a large enough community,” Brent said. “I think there was a lot of doubt. People had the same thing, they said, ‘That’s a really cool idea, I’m glad how ambitious you guys are, but be cautious.’ The whole don’t quit your day job thing.”
The husband and wife team stayed on track and have turned their sentiments for stooges into a strong business that has helped build their marriage.
“We shared a cigar on our honeymoon, and he had smoked cigars before that, but it wasn’t like a thing that he did, and he started hanging out with a bunch of guys that smoked cigars,” Camilla said. “No, I was very encouraging of the like, especially the getting together with the guys. They meet every Monday night and they call themselves The Man Box.”
While cigar smoking is not for everyone, the Train Car is still able to bring people together in some unusual ways.
“I’d say well over half our customers on many an evenings, aren’t cigar smokers,” Brent said.” Maybe one of their friends is, or they just like the atmosphere. Some of them, they like the smell outside, just that hint of cigar reminds them of their grandfather, or their dad, or maybe their grandma.”
The Train Car Cigar Bar is not about your final stop. It’s about the journey and taking time to relax and burn down a big one.
“You know the railroad was so important to west Texas, that’s what established Big Spring, and so I just love it,” Camilla said. “I love that we’re down here and that we’re in the box cars. I just, it’s a neat thing to be taking part in, I think.”
Whether you’re looking for a place to blow off some smoke or just to relax, The Train Cigar Box is a must on the Texas Bucket List.
“It turned out better than I could have thought,” Brent said. “I mean, if we didn’t own this, and I showed up here, that’s one of the things I’m proud of, is that this is a place that I’d want to be at.”