- "Cigar Smoking Makes a Comeback"

By: Derek Walter and Joshua Tehee
Photos: Perry Cooper

The smoke haze hovers above the crowd. The conversation fills the room as partrons chat while lounging on leather couches. Others sift through cigars for sale in humidor, looking for just the right choice. Cigar smoking is back. That is, if it ever was out of style.

Cigar shops like the new Cigar Mas Fino in northeast Fresno know there's just nothing like a good stogie. Cigar Mas Fino has an environment designed for the discriminating cigar smoker. A generous selection of cigars. Amenities such as humidors and cutters. And three leather lounging spots to lean back and puff on your favorite stogie.

Owners Moses Soza Sr., Moses Soza Jr., and Sarrah Soza say it's the upscale environment that has made patrons flock there since its opening in early February."This is a high-end, first-class cigar lounge," Sarrah Soza says. "We have three full lounges where people can relax and enjoy a cigar. We're really proud of what we've built here."

Moses Soza Sr. says the idea for opening Cigar Mas Fino came from a conversation with his son. He says they were talking about the lack of smoking establishments -- especially for those in northeast Fresno. "We got tired of driving downtown or elsewhere to find a place to smoke," he says. "We decided we were going to do something completely first-class and create an environment that would keep people coming back."

Fresno City Council Member Jerry Duncan, who considers himself a regular at Cigar Mas Fino, says the lounge has a big-city feel to it."When I first walked in here it reminded me of the quality of some of the places I've seen in other large cities, like L.A. and Washington, D.C.," he says. "It elevates the atmosphere for cigar smokers here in the Valley."

The owners say they've added numerous touches to make patrons feel like this is a place where they will want to relax again and again. This includes a VIP club, which for $365 per year entitles members to a personal VIP locker with an engraved name plate, discounts, complimentary admission to cigar-tasting events, the first option or limited-release cigar boxes and other benefits.

Cigar Mas Fino is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m., or "until the last ash drops," Sarrah Soza says.

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