A few weeks ago, my wife and I trekked over to the west coast of Florida to take a weekend away and just enjoy a nice change of scenery. Of course, it is still Florida, so there was not a lot of change. The sand on the beach is different, it is finer and more powdery than the east coast, but the rest is pretty much the same. There are palm and oak trees dotting the landscape, new housing developments are popping up on vast acreages of land, old and new architecture blends in with shopping malls, and you can find a local cigar shops and lounges with ease.
One of those cigar lounges is North Port Cigars nestled in the corner of a small shopping plaza in North Port Florida right off W. Price Blvd. I was not originally planning visit North Port, but my good Sister of the Leaf, Heather Callahan, knew I was over on the west coast and she contacted me about an event she was running at the shop including Line of Duty, Balmoral, and Hiram & Solomon cigar brands. Since I was driving down from New Port Richie to Punta Gorda, it made for an easy stop over.
North Port Cigars and Smokes
Before I agreed to stop in, I made sure it was okay with the shop owner, Shabaz, to bring my beloved cocker spaniel, Ziggy, in with us. Shabaz said it was fine. so into the plaza we parked and off to the shop we went.
There are actually two entrances to the establishment. There is a retail shop on the far right of the building which provides access to the lounge and there is a main entrance to the lounge itself. We chose the main entrance.
As I entered the lounge I noticed it was brightly illuminated. There were numerous grey leather seats neatly placed throughout the floor space. The seating covered the front of the lounge and wrapped around the back where the walk in humidor was. Each pair of seats had a side table that held an ashtray for your convenience, a feature I happen to like in a lounge, as you don’t have to get up to ash your cigar. That obviously kept the wood laminate floors clean. Overall the lounge has a modern look to it. I found the patrons to be friendly and welcoming as I have come to expect in a cigar lounge.
I walked to the back of the lounge and greeted Heather at her event table and she introduced me to Shabaz the owner. We spent some time discussing the history of the lounge and he gave me a short tour as he was getting ready for the dinner event that was about to happen. We will discuss that in just a moment.
Shabaz told me that he and his father-in-law, an ex-marine, run the lounge, which explains the prominent United States Marine flag behind the counter under the American Flag. Shabaz and his father originally owned a few shops in Wisconsin from 1999 to 2004. They wanted to do something in Florida so Shabaz made the move to get things set up and they closed the shops up north.
North Port Cigars actually started with a smaller shop, on the other side of the shopping plaza, about 13 years ago. The business grew rapidly over the years and they moved the shop to its current location in Sept of 2017. Shabaz chuckled as he told me about the opening date,. He said he will never forget that moment. You see, no sooner did they open, and hurricane Irma barreled into the west coast of Florida forcing them to close the shop for a few days. But that did not seem to have much of an impact as business is good.
I asked Shabaz, as I ask all shop owners, “how long have you been enjoying cigars?” His answer was – since the mid 1990’s and his Father-in-Law has been smoking cigars forever. He reminisced about the first one he smoked, a Partagas robusto. I have to say, if you you were to start with something good back in the day, the Partagas would be one for sure.
As we continued our discussion, Shabaz walked me back to the humidor, which is certainly on the larger size. It has multiple aisles of shelf space, stocked from floor to ceiling. There is a number of strategically placed humidifiers throughout to ensure proper humidity. To give you an idea of the size, the floor space of the lounge is about 1,200 sq ft and the humidor is an additional 600 sq ft. It takes up a good portion of the rear of the building. There is well over 500 facings in stock and Shabaz noted that he likes to keep a 60/40 split between big names and boutique lines, so you should not have a problem finding the cigar that meets your desire.
The shop also carries a full line of high end accessories including such brands as Xikar and Lotus along with a selection of quality humidors and humidification needs.
Monthly Dinner and Cigar Events
I told you I would get to this. During my visit to North Port Cigars and Smokes, it happened to be the monthly dinner event. These monthly events are where Shabaz highlights a cigar brand and serves a specially catered meal. This particular month the meal was steak and potatoes, with a dressing of mushrooms. The event costs $30.00 and you get a meal, 2 cigars, and a few glasses of wine or beer. The meal is served using those side tables I spoke of earlier, which transform into personal dining tables. Class at its finest if you ask me! Of course, there are great deals on the cigar of the month during the event.
You never know who you may run into at North Port Cigars and Smokes. Meet Robert and Patsy Brown from Grown Ash Cigar Society Inc.
In closing, let me say that North Port Cigars was a pleasant shop to visit. The experience was great, the steak dinner was a bonus, the cigar selection was amazing, and the seating was comfortable. Oh yea, and the bathroom was clean! The only issue I had was the need for better ventilation. I mentioned the smokiness to Shabaz and he graciously accepted my input and said he is aware of the issue and is looking into smoke eaters to clear the air.
I would like to thank Shabaz for the hospitality and I will be sure to stop in again when I am in the area.
You can locate North Port Cigars and Smokes at 1141 W Price Blvd, North Port, FL 34288.
The shop is open Monday through Saturday from 8AM to 10PM and on Sunday from 9AM to 9PM.
North Port Cigars and Smokes can be contacted at:
- Phone: (941) 240-5512
- Facebook: facebook.com/northport.smokes/