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KEY Oklahoma City

Clinton Greenhaw began playing the piano at 12. He started smoking cigars five years later. But it wasn’t until Greenhaw was stationed in Chicago in the late 1950’s that he discovered the magic of cigar and piano bars.

The young Army soldier frequented several Chicago cigar and piano bars, but his favorites were the Briefcase and the Library on State Street. Greenhaw would eventually return to Oklahoma, where he ran his family’s grocery business until retiring in 1998. But it was those early memories that led him to open his cigar bar, Maker’s Cigar & Piano Lounge, almost 50 years later.

Shortly after retirement, Greenhaw spotted the Oklahoma Hardware Building, an old but sturdy warehouse in the Bricktown Entertainment District. In 2000, Bricktown was in its infancy. Greenhaw wanted to create a comfortable environment for his patrons, but he needed a young and creative partner with a decorator’s eye. So Greenhaw approached Mark Myers, co-owner of New Leaf Florist, about partnering in his new venture.

Myers transformed the bare warehouse dock into a warm and inviting atmosphere that still attracts local residents and visitors alike. Employing the perfect mix of ambient and task lighting, Myers chose chinese red paint and pendant lighting (adorned with earth-tone beads) to set the perfect tone for the cigar bar.

One popular destination within Maker’s is the gas log fireplace, especially in the winter months. The rich, leather sofas situated around the fireplace are so popular, that several marital proposals have taken place there. In fact, Maker’s routinely gets calls from couple’s asking to reserve the sofas to celebrate an anniversary toast. According to Greenhaw, Maker’s original leather sofa was recently sold to a regular patron. “We didn’t ask any questions,” says Greenhaw. “He wanted the sofa, and the price was right.”

Seven years later, Maker’s Cigar & Piano Lounge continues to thrive in Bricktown. Maker’s survived the smoking ban passed by the state’s legislature in 2006. (When patrons ask Greenhaw where Maker’s non-smoking section is located, he politely points outside.) Greenhaw’s favorite cigar is a Graycliff from the Bahamas. He likes the flavor and draw of this particular cigar.

Maker’s prides itself in having some of the most knowledgeable bartenders in town, and on serving some of the finest liquors in the world. Greenhaw once refused to serve a patron who asked the bartender to mix Louie XIII Cognac with Diet Coke. “I lost out on a $135 sale,” smiles Greenhaw, “but you don’t mix cognac, you sip it.”

Maker’s features live music every night beginning at 8 p.m. The cigar bar is open seven days a week at 11 a.m., and is located at 25 N. Oklahoma Avenue in Oklahoma City. For more information, contact (405) 606-9000.

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