The Copa Cabana features perfect cocktails and cigars
In the 1960s the Rat Pack performed in the famous Copa Room at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. Fans flocked there to listen to the live music while drinking cocktails and enjoying cigars. You can find that same sophisticated atmosphere with modern style and comfort, and premium drinks and cigars at Copa Cabana Cocktails & Cigars in Legacy West in Omaha.
Owners Donnie and Kimberly DeGeorge opened Copa Cabana just over a year ago. Donnie spent more than 10 years in Las Vegas, which is known for its high-end lounges. After moving back to his home town of Omaha he worked for the local Budweiser distributor. He had always wanted to open a high-end cigar lounge, and when the opportunity presented itself, he jumped on it. “There was a need for it and nothing like it in West Omaha,” he said.
Copa Cabana is located in the space previously known as The Tasting Room wine bar. It’s a large, open room and had an outdoor patio in place, which appealed to Donnie. After securing the location, he and Kimberly spent 10 months completing a full remodel. The renovated lounge that can seat up to 100 includes low, round cocktail tables and burgundy leather chairs, two fireplaces, custom-painted wall murals, a 210 sq. ft. walk-in humidor, and a private room that seats 13, aptly named The Copa Room. A sliding glass door system opens onto the patio that has three fire pits and seating for up to 60.
A full bar offers premium cocktails and wine that is served at cellar temperature—an important distinction—as well as wines you won’t find everywhere else. In addition to premium liquor, all cigars they sell are premium brands, such as those from the Montecristo, Romeo & Julieta, and Macanudo families. They carry 180 different boxes of cigars as well as a range of accessories, including cigar clips for golfers. “We traveled from coast to coast for a year prior to opening, researching high end lounges,” Kimberly said. “He knew what he wanted to do.”
Only five months after opening, however, they were faced with unusual circumstances. In August 2014, a lawsuit filed by a local billiards hall owner declared it unconstitutional under the 2008 Nebraska Clean Air Act to allow cigar smoking in cigar bars when cigarette smoking wasn’t allowed in his own establishment. The lawsuit passed in the Nebraska Supreme Court but immediately went into appeal. Unfortunately, during the six month appeal process, customers were confused whether or not Copa Cabana was open for business. “We would receive up to 50 calls a day asking if we were open,” Donnie said. “We remained open the whole time, but a lot of people didn’t know it.”
Legislative Bill 118 states that cigar bars do not interfere with the intent of the Clean Air Act and was passed by the Nebraska Legislature this past March. Donnie explained that in order to qualify, an establishment cannot have a working kitchen, they can’t allow cigarette smoking anywhere on the property, and they can only sell cigars to those age 21 and older, all of which Copa Cabana strictly adheres to. With the new legislation passed, Donnie and Kimberly feel good about what they are able to offer customers.
“Cigar smoking is a benefit, but it doesn’t define us,” Donnie said. “Fifty percent of our customers are non-smokers. Couples like to come here after dinner and listen to live music, enjoy a drink, and converse. We host business meetings, football parties, and have a great happy hour.” With the path cleared, Donnie and Kimberly are looking forward to continuing to grow their business. “We’re more than just a cigar lounge,” Kimberly said. “It’s been a great team effort between the two of us, and we’re proud of what we have here.”