Old Knickerbockers Tobacconist in Menlo Park, California

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onizuka

Member
Sep 28, 2010
296
0
555 Santa Cruz Avenue

Menlo Park, CA 94025

(650) 327-7473
Hey guys - so me and my buddy (who I introduced pipe smoking to and have been trying to get to sign up for this forum) decided to visit this tobacconist after he sent me this image:

Well, I just had to go - it looks like an old world building and my kind of place. Upon opening the door, I was met full blast with a hazy room and cigar smells. I was distraught at first - believing this place to only be a cigar shop, but like an M. Night movie, there was a twist, but unlike his movie, it's a good one.
I wish I had taken more pictures - but I was already too excited when I hooked a right and looked at their pipe section. Though only one wall about 15 feet wide, they had many many many masoned tobaccos. I felt like someone had opened up the top of my head and dumped tobacco in - I didn't know where to start. I would say they had about 30 open for the customers to open up and take a whiff.
The etiquette of the store is that if you smoke inside, you must spend at least $10. This is to keep people from coming in and smoking a cigarette and also decided not strictly enforced. I asked the guy working, whose name is also Kevin, how much a sample was. He told me, "Grab a pinch, it's free." Wow, I must say - even though I have to spend $10, I can already see I'm going to enjoy this place. One that I picked up and had to try was called Fruit Tart - go ahead, laugh it up, funny name, but a fine aromatic that smelled like all sorts of fruit and smoked nice and cool, very mild and smelled absolutely wonderful; they even had one called Bahamian Rhapsody which quickly hit my face like the Hawaiian sun.
My buddy, who will be referred to as Chunkie, despite the fact that he is nothing but muscle, decided to go for Black Heath. The jar looked like the embodiment of hell's ashes - this thing was black as midnight and scary with a name like Black Heath. He loaded up and smoked - it was a very cool smoke, as he described it and absolutely tasty. I also gave it a few puffs and I'll be darned - mild but sweet aftertaste. We later found out it was just black Cavendish - which makes me wonder, are all tobaccos that are straight black Cavendish decidedly the same? Needless to say, I bought an ounce to help fulfill the $10 I had to spend in store, $3.50 and some change + a few beverages and some pipe sweetener later, I had fulfilled the minimum.
The next tobacco I sampled was the Spicey Vanilla - it was spelled that way, and boy, was it good. It had just enough vanilla and it wasn't overpowering, very good smoker and no bad aftertaste. I absolutely will be finding out who makes it or buying an ounce the next time I'm out there.
Now, while this place is predominantly cigar smokers - the patrons are actually pipe and cigar smokers. The Spicey Vanilla was a recommendation from one of the gents sitting in the lounge and Kevin himself was a pipe smoker; he even brought out two Bjarne pipes that he owned to show us - I was impressed and then wanted to buy one instantly, hahaha.
Here are only a few of the pipes I took a picture of, the other pipes didn't interest me too much but I did notice they sold Hardcastle, Savinelli, and a few others I'd not heard of. Also, I did not know that CAO used to make pipes (can anyone chime in on this?).
These pipes were in the $300-500 range. I had to make one of the pipes work safe, so I blacked it out for you guys. All in all, a B&M I'll be visiting again.




 

tanless1

Preferred Member
Sep 14, 2010
644
0
There's a shop I frequent in ontario,ca. that doesn't sell what I prefer to smoke ; but I'll buy a couple ounces of in house blends because it would be rude not to.

No dollar value has ever been stated, I just want to sit down and hang out for awhile.

....with that being said. I'd be happy to send these blends on to a brother in need. Canada , or under employed. They are fine blends, just not what I'm looking to smoke.
Is this store listed on "pipe store locater" ?

 

jship079

Senior Member
Oct 17, 2010
459
0
I have seen allot of the cao Meershaum pipes I think Fred would be better suited to tell you anything about them.I have never seen a cao brier I think all they made were meershaum

 

python

Preferred Member
Apr 8, 2009
2,298
2
CAO used to have meerschaum pipes made for them some years back. Tim Ozgener, former president of CAO, talked briefly about their pipes in the interview that I had with him. You can read it here:
Interview with Tim Ozgener

 

admin

Smoking a Pipe Right Now
Staff member
Nov 16, 2008
7,914
54
St. Petersburg, FL
That looks like a really cool place, and they are in The Pipe Store Locator too:
http://pipesmagazine.com/pipe-store-locator/california/knickerbockers-cigars-menlo-park-ca-156.html

 

onizuka

Member
Sep 28, 2010
296
0
I'm glad you guys dig the joint - I did go back, because I dig it as well!


This is what happens when your friend decides that he is thirsty mid smoke. It is also cool to look at. Protip - if you have a plastic bottle version, fill it with smoke and squeeze gently for smoke rings.


While not a fan of Stanford (GO BEARS!), I'm sure they had to put it in their shop because they're right next to Palo Alto (another place I try not to frequent). Take note of the crest above the Suckford, I mean, Stanford sign, and the animals next to it. Unicorn? Indeed. Also, that dude standing there is the shop employee, cool guy Kevin.


This is their section for pipe tobacco - note, this is the only wall with pipe tobacco - the rest of the shop is cigars. Once again, we were the only pipe smokers there this time. Kevin was nice enough to offer some of his own private stash of Sutliff Private Stock French Quarter. Note, above the display case of pipes - those are all plastic jars of pipe tobacco. Some house blends (I assume are house blends), and some are bulks from Altadis and Lane Limited - there are probably other company bulks in the mix but I didn't take note.


Lastly is this picture of my matches. I got jipped on this box. They gave me 249 instead of 250 and two of them are fused together! Well, guess they all can't be perfect.

 

excav8tor

Senior Member
Aug 28, 2010
448
0
South Devon, England
How did that B&M get hold of a Royal Scottish Coat of Arms. And it is Scottish because the Unicorn is on the left side (or in the correct terminology, Dexter... to the right of the shield wearer). The next time you go in, look at the banner at the bottom. It should read Nemo me impune lacessit (roughly translated as No one attacks me with impunity).

 

unclearthur

Preferred Member
Mar 9, 2010
6,883
0
When I first saw the title I wondered who was posting about old knickers. Then it hit me that was a B&M not a pair of drawers.

 

onizuka

Member
Sep 28, 2010
296
0
excav8tor: I have no idea, I'll try to find out. I didn't even know it was Scottish - that's a good bit of history.
LOL@unclear thursday ;)

 

sjpipesmoker

Preferred Member
Apr 17, 2011
1,073
0
This shop is owned by the same people that own West Coast cigars in san jose (westcoastcigars.com) which is mostly a cigar shop, they have some tobacco but not a lot. I haven't been to Old Knick's, but will have to check it out, sounds like a great place
It was called Old Knickerbockers, now with the new owners, it's called Knickerbockers

 

clanobucklin

Preferred Member
Jan 19, 2010
948
0
It's nice to see a tobaccoist still around in the Bay Area. I might drop in - if I am down that neck of the woods. I live about 1 hour a way.

 

brewshooter

Preferred Member
Jun 2, 2011
1,658
0
Nice looking place. I'm in the East Bay, but, if I'm ever over on that side, I'll have to check it out.

 

onizuka

Member
Sep 28, 2010
296
0
I was just there last week - TAD got the best of me, I bought 4 oz of tobacco, lol, it is now sitting in a mason jar aging, which I'm not even sure if it will make a difference since it's simply black cavendish.
They did however, just get a whole bunch of brand new pipes. I was talking to the store employee and he said the owner, for some reason, only liked to carry Italian pipes. They do sell estate pipes, which is pretty cool. Also, their display cabinet of CAO meerschaums is pretty awesome - considering, that CAO doesn't make pipes anymore, AFAIK.

 

onizuka

Member
Sep 28, 2010
296
0
Sounds good, I'm usually free Friday and Saturday nights.. I'll try to get my pipe buddy to go too!