One of Tampa Heights’ historic churches has a new life.
Over the weekend, Grand Cathedral Cigars opened at 2201 N. Florida Avenue near Metropolitan Ministries where staff was joined by Tampa Mayor Jane Castor who cut the ribbon on the mixed-use space, originally built in 1926.
Social media posts say Grand Cathedral will include a piano bar, lounge, conference area, and a 6,000-square-foot outside event space—koi pond included. Upstairs is a membership-only VIP area with 24-hour access, while downstairs will be open to the public.
In a chat with Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, owner Angela Yue explained that there are two levels of membership, the higher tier is allowed to bring guests to the VIP area. Humidors and locker access are also available for members. A retail shop on the first floor sells a variety of cigars including their own brand (not rolled in house, however).
In addition to retail, Grand Cathedral has a full bar already opened to the public, which is “pretty basic right now,” Yue explained. But that won’t be the case for long.
“We are piecing together a wonderful bar staff who will create cigar and alcohol pairings in a whole new manner,” membership director Steve Shlemon said in an email with CL.
On weekends Grand Cathedral offers free barbecue to its customers, food Yue and her unnamed partner make in house—a tradition they started in their other store, Lord Puffer Tobacconist in Escondido, California. Yue and her partner take turns traveling back and forth to keep up with both stores.
Yue seems to be a pretty big deal in the cigar world and was actively involved in the buildout, including keeping the original floor tiles. The building is leased from Lance Barton of Highland Capital Brokerage. According to Loopnet a yearly lease for the building is $125,000.
Yue said she wanted to open her business in Tampa because of the opportunity to lease the church and because Tampa is the “Cigar Capital of the World.”
Grand Cathedral’s hours are 10 a.m.-10 p.m. seven days a week.
According to two Tampa Bay Times articles, the 8,106-square feet building was renovated in 2004 by Nick Cutro for the nonprofit Renaissance Center for the Arts. The Tampa Heights community-center lasted less than a year before being sold to an undisclosed brokerage company who has owned it since. Cutro and his renovation won a Best of the Bay award for his efforts.
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