Twinsburg -- Like a fine wine to a sommelier, an aged cigar to the owners of Havana's Choice Cigars and Lounge is the signature taste of a culture.
With a faint but not unpleasant smell of cigar smoke in the air at the 8027 Darrow Road shop, Havana's co-owner Ron Corsi sat down April 23 to talk tobacco -- specifically Nicaraguan tobacco, where Havana's cigars are harvested and rolled under the label "Havana's Choice Private Blend" -- and the finer points of being a cigar aficionado.
"This is where you come to smoke your troubles away," Corsi said. "It's like a coffee culture ... totally unique to itself. We want to bring back that true lounge feeling."
"We want you to feel welcome ... like you are sitting in your own living room," Havana's co-owner Don Raimondo added.
Corsi, from Hudson, and Raimondo, from Bath, opened their 750-square-foot cigar shop in the unassuming, residence-style house about two months ago, and Corsi said business thus far has been fair, "enough to pay the bills."
He said he sees a high ceiling for what the business can be.
"There was a base of dedicated customers waiting for a cigar shop to open up here," Corsi said.
"We really saw something in the cigar industry," Raimondo said. "We're trying to set the stage in this area."
The intimate lounge setting, bright with ambient light, is a perfect backdrop for the camaraderie and friendship that can develop at cigar stores, in this case with Corsi as the emcee who knows everybody's name.
The backyard boasts an ample porch area, and bocce courts are planned for an area that used to be a dog run at the former Pooch Palace (which moved to Northfield).
An intricate ventilation system -- or "smoke eater" -- was installed by Corsi and Raimondo for between $5,000 and $6,000, and it inhales 2,500 square feet of air -- keeping the lounge free of lingering smoke.
"It recycles the air ... so that you are not smoking my cigar, your eyes are not burning ... it's just comfortable," Corsi said.
The piéce de résistance of the shop is a sealed, walk-in humidor that stays between 65 and 70 degrees at 70 percent humidity -- the perfect atmosphere to keep the modestly priced cigars from drying out, Corsi explains.
At between $7.50 and $13 per cigar, Havana's offers torpedo-cuts, perajos, figurados and box press cigars, aged cigars and "lawn mowing cigars," Corsi says.
Regardless of the experience level, Corsi says the shop offers a respite from work or a relaxing spot to shoot the breeze.
"I've met a lot of great people in this community so far," he said. "The other night we had a nurse, a small business owner and a few others from the neighborhood. We just had a fantastic time ... we cut it up all night."
To contact Havana's Choice Cigars and Lounge, call 330-486-9440.