>Business plan would bring Scotland tradition to Griffin

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Ross Davey, 27, hopes to open a cigar shop in downtown Griffin by mid-2011.   Davey, originally from Scotland, has chosen an unusual name for a cigar shop:  “The Rest and Be Thankful.”  

The name is borrowed from a little spot in Scotland near Davey’s hometown.  “Rest & Be Thankful” are the words located on a stone near the junction of two main Scotland roads, placed there by soldiers who built the original military road in 1753.  (The original stone fell into ruin and was replaced by a commemorative stone at the same site.)  The spot is so named because the climb out of the valley is so long and steep, that at the end that it was traditional to rest at the top, and be thankful that you had got to the highest point.
Davey chose this name for his business because he hopes the shop will become a gathering place for people after weary work days.  “In Scotland, almost every town has a pub where the community would go; it was more of a fellowship hall.  The community would almost be more well-known for the name of the pub than the name of the town,” Davey said.
Plus, everyone has told him to “market the Scottish,” he said. 
Davey came to the U.S. six years ago and became interested in cigars because they’re cheaper and more readily available here, he says.  For the last three years, he has contemplated this business plan.  “About a year and a half ago, it became realistic,” he said.  He’s spoken with other cigar shop owners and feels like his plan is possible.    
The location Davey has in mind is located on East Solomon Street, in the space in front of Scanlon Engineering.  Joey Scanlon owns the building.   It was important to Davey to locate the shop in the downtown area:  “It would be a whole lot cheaper to open in a strip mall. But I like the feel of downtown; I came from a place where everyone walks.  It’s just so much more of a community atmosphere downtown.”  The space Davey would utilize is 2500 square feet, which can easily accommodate the 16’ by 16’ humidor Davey plans to purchase, which preserves the cigars.  “It’s got a great front porch, and everything we need.  And it’s a really cool space on the inside,” said Davey’s wife, Lindsey.
Davey is currently talking with several potential investors, as well as the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).  He is waiting for ballpark quotes from a builder who would finish out the space. 
If everything goes as planned, Davey wants the space to feature three distinct areas, including a quiet area with books and board games such as Chess, a TV viewing area, and a bar where the cigars and, Davey hopes, local microbrews.  As the alcohol ordinance is written right now, Davey would not be able to serve alcohol because he wouldn’t be serve food or have live entertainment.   Davey realizes that he may not be able to serve alcohol.  “Even if the microbrews idea doesn’t work out, it’ll just make startup costs cheaper,” he said.
An important aspect of Davey’s business plan is the introductory to cigars classes he has planned.  Cigars will be provided when individuals sign up, and Davey will offer advice on cigars, and also teach the correct way to smoke a cigar.  “If you smoke them incorrectly, they can make you sick instantly and be hazardous to your health,” said Davey.
Cigars being a health hazard seems obvious, but Davey said his reading and research point to three to five cigars a day, smoked correctly (not inhaling) has a negligible impact to a person’s health.  During the course of a normal week, Davey smokes roughly 15 cigars, but he says he passes health checks with flying colors, and even runs in several marathons every year, including the “Tough Mudder,” a 12-mile obstacle course designed by the British Special Forces and proclaimed as “probably the toughest event on the planet.” 
Davey wants The Rest and Be Thankful to be an enjoyable space for the community, even people who don’t enjoy smoking cigars.  “I grew up reading C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien, who had a group of five guys that would meet in the pub everyday to discuss politics, literature, and the like.  I picture that kind of place,” said Davey. 
*The original printing of this article mentioned that the cigar shop could potentially serve alcohol because DDA Director Adam Causey was planning to change definitions within the “code” in 2011.  THE PAPER would like to retract this statement and apologize to Causey for misunderstanding; Causey was referring to changing the zoning code.  Causey updated THE PAPER yesterday, saying he advised Davey to speak with city commissioners first about his desire to serve alcohol. 
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