MONROE, Conn. — The concept behind The Cigar Shop of Monroe is just as straightforward as its name would suggest.
“I see it as an extension of your home where you can come and relax and smoke cigars,” said Jim Benton, who recently celebrated the shop’s grand opening with business partner Bob Sabia. “We give people something to do anytime they want to do something.”
The Cigar Shop has been a cigar business since 1996, and Benton and Sabia are the fourth owners. Benton used to be a regular. When he heard the shop might close, he wanted to do something for stogie lovers in the region.
The new owners added a retail space with a full range of cigars and supplies in the former nail salon next to the 1,000-square-foot lounge, which is outfitted with several leather chairs, a card table and flat screen television.
Benton left high school in 1998 and has been in construction ever since, most recently owning a civil engineering company for seven years. Sabia is the former owner of Irene’s Flower Shop of Monroe.
The pair didn’t dream of owning a cigar shop until the opportunity came up, Benton said.
“No kid says, 'I want to own a cigar shop when I grow up,'” he said, laughing.
But business has been steady since they staged a soft launch in November, and they’re finding word of mouth is the best advertising.
“A guy will come in and he’ll get on Facebook and, suddenly, there’s a bunch of his friends here, too,” Benton said.
Guests are encouraged to bring their own food and beverages — or they can order takeout to be delivered to the shop. There's also free WiFi.
The owners offer private parties and hope to plan events around sports and live music. In the summer, they will open a rear patio. Future plans might include a pool table or two.
In addition to cigars, Benton said they will soon have a range of pipes and tobacco. And, now that America has loosened restrictions on travel to Cuba, he’s hoping to sell storied Cuban brands in the future.
“As soon as we’re able to, we will,” he said.
The Cigar Shop, 446 Main St., Monroe, is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays (for the golfing set) and from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays.
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