The first cigar bar in downtown Plant City is nearing completion and expects to open its doors soon.
Tobacco enthusiasts will soon have a new place to shop and lounge.
Following the amendment to the city’s code that allows for cigar bars to sell alcohol downtown, David Verner, owner/operator of the upcoming Bruton’s Cigar Shop, said he and his father, Ed Verner, jumped at the opportunity to bring a long-held dream of theirs to life. Named in honor of Judge James D. Bruton Jr., Bruton’s Cigar Shop will act as a cigar lounge and bar for those who value cigar and pipe tobacco and are searching for a local venue to enjoy a smoke with their friends.
“Bruton’s Cigar Shop is going to be an interesting mix, we are a retail tobacco store so we will sell cigars by the stick or box as well as accompaniments and pipe tobacco, but we also will have the bar element that will really provide the perfect spot for you to sit down and just have a relaxing smoke,” David Verner said. “Most cigar lounges do not have the bar element, they don’t provide a full service for its customers. If we weren’t able to do that we would not have ever opened this.”
Verner said they wanted to create an establishment like this for years, but without the city code allowing liquor to be served they felt it was a futile mission. When commissioners altered the code in June they were the first to submit an application.
The ordinance “allows up to two Cigar Bars in the Downtown Core provided the Cigar Bar meets the following: has a 4COP alcoholic beverage license; must not be closer than 200 feet from an established church, public or private school, public recreation area or day care center; and is at least 250 feet from another 4COP licensed establishment. The ordinance also limits the square footage available for the consumption of alcoholic beverages to 600 square feet.”
This will be one of the two allowed in the downtown core. The shop will be on the corner of Reynolds Street and Collins Street and will feature front patio seating, an internal bar/lounge and a rooftop patio element. Inside there is also a humidor and lockers for customers. Verner said the lockers will be available for rent within the first 90 days of the business opening.
Everything is themed after Bruton, who was a circuit judge and a prominent member of the Plant City community for years. Bruton moved to Plant City in 1918 and was a graduate of Plant City High School’s class of 1926. He practiced law in Plant City from 1931 to 1961 and was elected to a two-year term in the Florida House of Representatives in 1934. He was a Plant City municipal judge from 1937 to 1957, a county judge in 1961 and became a Hillsborough County circuit judge in 1964. He died in 2005.
The indoor bar/lounge area is called the Judges Sidebar, the humidor is the Judges Chambers and other legal themed nicknames will be attached to the outdoor seating and patios. The logo features the legendary homburg hat Bruton was never seen without as well as a smoking cigar, which was never far from his hand. Verner said he was magnanimous in the county and a foundation of the community, hence the desire to use the establishment to pay homage to such a core part of the city’s history.
The historic building has been refurbished from top to bottom and outfitted with leather, hand carved wood, brass, Edison bulbs and pressed tin to match the historic feel of downtown. Even the humidor was hand built inside the venue. Verner compared the aesthetic to that of Winston Churchill’s library and said every piece of the design and decor will match a classic and timeless theme.
Three smoke eaters as well as two exhaust ventilators will ensure that smoke never lingers in the room. Verner said even those who don’t like smoke should have no issue being comfortable in the establishment. With the bar, those wanting to pop in for a drink are able to do so, regardless of if they want to partake in tobacco or not. There will be a conservative selection of offerings at the bar, but Verner said there will be a variety of liquors as well as a few craft beers.
“We are 70 percent done and looking forward to opening soon,” Verner said. “I think this really will become a place for people to come and relax and watch a game or take a moment to themselves before they have to get back to work or head to a meeting. Our hours will begin before the rush lunch so that way if you’re a lawyer or banker or something like that and you need a quiet place on a Monday morning, we will be here ready to offer that escape.”
Verner added the timing could not be more perfect for bringing this type of establishment to downtown. With all of the movement on Evers Street, the upcoming Wheeler Street Station and the other proposed developments in the surrounding blocks there will soon be an influx of patrons to downtown.
“All of us want this town to succeed and we all thrive off of friendly competition with one another,” Verner said. “There’s so much coming. It’s the right time to do something like this. This is perfectly primed at this moment to jump on the train of Plant City’s downtown revitalization. We want to be a part of that and help this community succeed. I think there is a hole in Plant City for this kind of market that needs to be filled.”
Initially the plan is to be open from Monday to Saturday. You can stay up-to-date on the business by following Bruton’s Cigar Shop on Facebook, Instagram or its website.