Avo Lounges in the Sunshine State

The sound of live piano music complements a cigar and a drink well, especially if the man who blended your cigar is the one tickling the ivories.

This is a common occurrence at the new Avo lounge, the first and only one in the United States named after Avo Uvezian, founder of the eponymous Dominican cigar line. Located in central Florida in the town of Heathrow, the lounge is inside the Corona Cigar Co. store and close enough to Uvezian's home for the cigarmaker/musician to stop by often and play for patrons.

"He's there more than some employees," said Jeff Wojtanowski, Corona's general manager.

The cigar bar had its official opening in January. It is Corona's second cigar retail/lounge establishment in Florida. The $1.5 million store houses 3,500 square feet of retail and lounge space. The lounge, which has a grand piano for Uvezian, features a Central American décor, with hand-carved wood furniture from Nicaragua and a bar with an alabaster top. The lounge offers beer, wine, Port and coffee, and if you feel like a snack, Cuban sandwiches are available as well.

Florida has an indoor smoking ban, but because Corona is a tobacconist, counting approximately 90 percent of its revenue from the sale of tobacco and tobacco-related accessories, a patron can light up under its roof.

Wojtanowski said that Corona's lounges draw customers from nearby restaurants (which both stores are strategically situated among) that aren't exempt from the ban.

The Avo Lounge also houses a special smoke reserved exclusively for Corona Cigar Co. called the Avo Lounge cigar. The blue-banded, $16 double corona is wrapped in Ecuadoran leaf and filled with tobacco from the Dominican Republic. It was made by Uvezian and Hendrik Kelner for the original Avo Lounge in Aarau, Switzerland. Corona owner Jeff Borysiewicz obtained approval from Davidoff of Geneva, owner of the Avo brand, to sell the cigar when he gained approval to be the exclusive user of the Avo Lounge name in the U.S.

Borysiewicz struck up a friendship with Uvezian three years ago when his first Corona Cigar Co. store, located in Orlando, hosted an Avo 77th birthday party event. Borysiewicz came into the cigar business in 1996 as an online and mail-order retailer, and then opened his first retail store in April 2002. Uvezian launched his Avo brand in 1988 after giving away cigars for years while working as a musician in Puerto Rico.

For more on Uvezian, click here.

For more on Corona Cigar and the Avo Lounge call, 1-888-70-CIGAR.