Tom Foti leaned back and took a leisurely puff of his “stick.”
“It doesn’t matter where you go to a cigar bar — whether it’s here, New York, Indiana — they all have the same calm, relaxed environment,” he observed.
He and co-owner Lisa Pervin can say exactly the same of their new home for Fedora’s Cigar & Wine Bar.
It, too, is chill, relaxing and laid back — just twice as big, in a more visible location, with ampler parking.
They’re lighting up now at a new space behind and separate from Punta Gorda’s Torch Bar & Grill.
“It will help both businesses and be a win-win for all of us,” said Pervin.
Torch co-owner Heidi Federici agreed: “We’re excited for them to be open and bring more people to the plaza.”
“Most important, it’s a fresh start that’s all ours,” said Pervin, who, with Foti, had bought, reopened and renamed the nearly 20-year-old Wood Street cigar bar in May 2016.
Some things don’t change with a new location, of course.
Camaraderie, for one.
Fedora’s is open to the public. “We’re for everyone.” said Pervin.
Come in here the first time, and you’re only a stranger once. It’s a place to socialize, relax and make connections.
And there are more women cigar smokers than ever, including Pervin herself and other women involved in the cigar industry.
“We have women customers who come in by themselves to enjoy a cigar,” said Pervin. “They never feel like they can’t do that. They’re always welcome.
“And we never assume when a woman walks into the humidor that she’s buying cigars for her husband, brother or father.”
Since owning the lounge, in fact, they’ve grown their demographic to include more generations, women and couples.
“It’s important to us to appeal to the widest audience,” said Pervin. “Many people who don’t even smoke come in here, just because they like it.”
Some 50 percent of their regular customers are new to them. Nevertheless, many local cigar smokers have told them they didn’t know Fedora’s was there, tucked away on Wood Street.
That all changes with their big new location on the Trail.
“Tom taught me everything I know about cigars,” Pervin reflected. “We ended up here because he wanted to own a cigar bar, and I wanted to own a wine bar.”
Wine and cigars go together like that.
Each subtly alters the other’s taste profile as you savor the flavor, rolling it around on your tongue — the same way a sip of bourbon and a puff of cigar smooths out the edges of the bourbon.
“I’ve tasted all the wines we carry, and they all go very well with cigars, even the Prosecco. It makes both the Prosecco and the cigar taste good, which is the enhancement you’re looking for,” said Pervin.
Foti summed it up succinctly: “You don’t want a cigar that overpowers a wine or beer, and vice versa.”
In the new place there are 40 wines and ports, and the number of beers, on tap and in bottles, has increased as well. With a new opening time of 10 a.m., Fedora’s is also a good place for a cigar with a cappuccino or espresso, both now added to their menu of coffees.
They’ve built a new Spanish cedar-lined humidor three times the old one’s size, holding a large selection of premium cigars that includes the well-known core brands as well as some boutique brands, moreblends and sizes.
“We listen to our customers as to their preferences and also carry what I enjoy,” said Foti.
They have basically the same number of seats, in separate, comfortably roomy groups of four to six, with high tops and more seats around the bar. The décor, in leather, cloth, beige and red, with classic black-and-white photos on the walls, aims for dignified elegance.
The new venue makes it much easier to have live music and cigar events. Fedora’s theme music has always been the blues, and that won’t change.
“The new place opens up so many possibilities. This has been a great segue into retiring from what we were both doing previously. It’s something we can do together and have a lot of fun,” said Pervin.
Fedora’s Cigar & Wine Bar (941-621-8732), now at 2117 Tamiami Trail, behind Torch Bar & Grill, is open Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday noon to 7 p.m. They’re also licensed as retailers for those who just want to buy a box or a few sticks to take with them.