Fresno Bee
- "Cigar buffs get a new place to puff"

Cigar buffs get their own place to puff

Smoking lounge offers comfort, a refined atmosphere.

The Fresno Bee

(Updated Monday, February 27, 2006, 5:43 AM)

Ahmad Bahrami enjoys a cigar at Cigar Mas Fino's grand-opening celebration. Photo: Perry Cooper

Stogie fans have a place to call their own in north Fresno.

Cigar Mas Fino (The Fine Cigar) at the northeast corner of Cedar and Nees avenues is an 1,800-square-foot "lounge" with four smoking areas, leather sofas and chairs, plasma televisions, a chess table and a bar that servesnonalcoholic beverages.

Cigar Mas Fino sells a variety of cigars, including vanilla favored and other types preferred by women, and even has a "membership" program in which people can buy a locker to store their stogies. More than 50% of the lockers are taken.

"We have a VIP locker system with a bank of 50 cherry wood lockers. They can buy a box or two of cigars and put them in a humidified locker to keep them fresh. They can come in, grab a smoke and not have to deal with the cash register," said Moses Soza Jr., one of the owners.

The lockers, which have brass nameplates, rent for $1 a day, or $365 a year.

The family business is run by Soza, an auto painter; his father, Moses Soza Sr.; and sister Sarrah Soza. The business is the brainchild of Moses Soza Jr., who said he had to drive a lengthy distance to find a premium cigar — and then would have to smoke it in his backyard.

Soza figured cigar aficionados would flock to a place of their own. "You don't smoke in the house. I have so many half-smoked cigars on my patio because it is cold, and I go back inside. I knew they would come."

Jerry Duncan was impressed. "I must admit it is quite a place," said the Fresno City Council member, whose district contains the lounge and who has an occasional cigar. "It reminds me of some of the finer places I've seen in New York or Washington, D.C."