History of Iwan Ries & Co.
In 1871, the Chicago Fire burned the city to the ground sparing nothing. From the smoke and ashes both the Sherman House and E. Hoffman & Co. emerged bigger and better. In Chicago’s major business district, Edward and his staff served not only the booming business community, but also thousands of hotel guests developing a large fan base outside of the city, as well. As business grew Edward realized that he could not run it alone. In 1891, he recruited his nephew, Iwan Ries, from Germany and the second generation had begun.
With Edward easing toward retirement, in 1898, Iwan took center stage. Finding it increasingly difficult to manage the manufacturing of Hoffman House products without sacrificing the service to his loyal retail clientele, Iwan sold the manufacturing business. In the agreement, the name of the store had to change. With a nod of approval from Uncle Edward, the store became known as Iwan Ries & Co.
Throughout the next twenty years Iwan Ries & Co. built a reputation as one of the finest tobacco shops in the country. Though business was brisk, it was not without complications. Chicago, still rebuilding from the fire, was a tabula rasa for architects & developers. And the roaring twenties brought them in droves. With developers devouring land for the building of a modern city, Iwan Ries & Co. had to keep finding new locations to set up shop. As the business grew, so did his family. Stanley Levi married Iwan’s daughter Rosalie in 1929. The third generation was quickly brought into the mix. Learning the ropes from two generations of pioneers in the industry Stanley gained valuable knowledge. His slow and steady apprenticeship paid huge dividends. By 1950, Iwan Ries & Co became a household name among smokers.
In 1968, the Levi family purchased a historic building for this historic company. Built in 1881, the Iwan Ries Building at 19 S. Wabash is the oldest surviving building designed by Adler & Sullivan. Today, the facade is being lovingly restored by Stanley’s son Chuck, the current owner of Iwan Ries & Co.
Chuck took over daily operations in 1988. Not content to rest on the laurels of his forefathers, he remains an innovative force in the industry. His dedication and work ethic have not gone unnoticed. Dunhill & Peterson have both named Iwan Ries & Co. Retailer of the Year. From 2001-2003 Chuck served as president of the industry’s national trade association (RTDA). To this day Chuck works seven days a week to insure the philosophy of the previous three generations is not lost in these modern times.
In the early 90’s, Chuck’s son Kevin joined the team and became the fifth generation of the family to work at the store. He oversaw the implementation of www.iwanries.com, bringing Iwan Ries & Co. into the future. Truly a family business, from the end of the Industrial Revolution to the beginning of the Information Age, Iwan Ries & Co. has brought 150 years of quality, value and service to the smokers of Chicago and the world.
Iwan Ries & Co. is also the home of The Iwan Ries Lounge, Downtown Chicago's only Smoking Lounge. After the Smoking Ban hit the smokers of Chicago, we converted some old warehouse space into the most comfortable space for smokers in Chicago. Whether you are a pipe or cigar smoker, you will find a relaxed atmosphere and friendly company. The perfect alternative to the long lost Cigar Bars of Chicago, The Iwan Ries Lounge is BYOB, so bring your favorite bottle and we'll provide the glassware.
While browsing our site, please keep in mind that this is a only a small selection of what we have to offer. We have over 15,000 pipes in stock, the largest selection of pipe tobaccos available, hundreds of cigars, and countless accessories. Please call us if you don't see what your looking for. Chances are we have it. If not, and its available, we'll get it for you. Thanks for visiting and keep smoking.