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The Grand Cathedral of Cigars Casts Fuente in a Holy Light

An old church in Tampa has been converted into a stunning cigar bar
Nov 22, 2021 | By Gregory Mottola
The Grand Cathedral of Cigars Casts Fuente in a Holy Light
Photos/Cigar Aficionado
Once the First Congregational Church of Tampa, the Grand Cathedral of Cigars has found new life as a cigar bar and lounge.

In 1906, the First Congregational Church of Tampa was constructed and consecrated on the corner of Florida Avenue and East Frances. The brick building still stands 115 years later, but the religious denomination has been converted. Here, at what has since been rechristened the Grand Cathedral of Cigars, the religion is tobacco. And its minister is Angela Yue, proprietor and partner in this massive monument to the art of smoking—and to all things Fuente. The humidor holds many brands, but the focus is clearly on Fuente products.

While “Arturo Fuente” isn’t in the name, the Grand Cathedral of Cigars is one of the most comprehensive Fuente-centric establishments in existence, up there with Casa Fuente in Las Vegas and the Arturo Fuente Cigar Club in the Dominican Republic. Carlos Fuente Jr. is a partner in the operation, and his image, along with branded Fuente iconography and archival photos of his family’s legacy, can be found in nearly every corner of this stunning architectural restoration.

The Grand Cathedral
With koi ponds and plenty of shade, the mood is quite calming on Grand Cathedral’s 6,000 square-foot outdoor patio. Notice the OpusX logo set in the pavers.

Like a visiting pope, Fuente himself only appears in the flesh on rare occasion. And in typical Fuente fashion, it seems no expense was spared turning this structure into the cigar destination it now is. There’s a third partner as well, Nathan Kalasho, but the day-to-day operations are handled by Yue while Kalasho runs their other store, Lord Puffer, another Fuente-heavy shop in Escondido, California. 

Now that Yue has moved to Tampa full time, her dedication to the Grand Cathedral has become monastic. Cut-and-light rituals are conducted like daily prayers as the smoke of burning tobacco takes on the importance of holy incense.  

Fuente has always referred to his cigar factory in the Dominican Republic as a “cathedral.” Now, he literally gives us one.

The Grand Cathedral
Smoky sunbeams cast an almost holy light on patrons as they sit at the bar.
The Grand Cathedral
While the main floor is open to the public, the second level is reserved for club members.
The Grand Cathedral
The Fuente logo is beautifully etched in glass on the window of the humidor.
The Grand Cathedral
Fuente and Fuente-made cigars naturally have a huge presence in the humidor, but many brands are represented, including Padrón, Oliva, EPC Cigar Co. and Tatuaje.
The Grand Cathedral
This private, members-only lounge space is cloistered on the second level.
The Grand Cathedral
A view from the balcony shows the church’s original tiles on the ground floor, and a mural of the Fuente family legacy on the second.
The Grand Cathedral
The hour is still early at Grand Cathedral, and this ashtray will soon host a cigar or three.
Dominican Republic Arturo Fuente

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