We had the good fortune of connecting with Tico Gutierrez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tico, how do you think about risk?
Risk may as well be my middle name. My 25 year professional career has centered around helping people manage risk. Be it in the stock market or helping clients with protection for their families, it’s a conversation that I’ve been having a couple of times every day. The funny part is that while I’ve always taken a conservative approach with my clients, in my personal life I’m always taking challenges for better or worse.
My last gamble was taking a chance on Downtown Miami. Ever since I can remember I’ve always heard the same story, “We’re rebuilding downtown, downtown Miami is the next hottest thing, blah, blah, blah.” A few years ago I really bought into the vision of City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and current City Manager Arthur Noriega. Arthur in particular sold me and from one day to the next we were talking lease terms on location in an MPA garage that had been empty for 9 years. 16 months later City Cigar Lounge came to fruition on January 31, 2020 (6 weeks before COVID). The challenges have been plenty, from securing a liquor license to getting shut down due to COVID before we could have our grand opening. Contrary to popular belief, I still think I made the right decision. Downtown Miami has been growing exponentially since we started this trek and I feel that we are on the ground floor of something great.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
City Cigar Lounge is the premier cigar bar in the City of Miami. With the largest selection of scotches, bourbons, whiskies and tequila we are to go to place to enjoy an excellent adult beverage and if you like cigars, you’ll be able to enjoy that in a comfortable living room feel. Some people have described it s a giant man cave but about 35% of our clients are women or couples. Was it easy? Nothing has been easy. We had our soft opening January 31, 2021 with plans to have a grand opening 2 months later. COVID had other plans for us. for health reasons we obviously had to shut down but a decision was made to keep growing. While we couldn’t open to the public we came up with ideas to get our products into the hands of our client, plan for a re-opening and keep to growing our bar offerings. Today we have accomplished our goal of having the premier scotch, bourbon, whiskey & tequila bar in Miami.
Lessons learned? Success doesn’t happen overnight. You will get punched in the gut, get your legs taken out and lose some blood, sweat and tears but if you really believe in your vision and have the passion to match, you will succeed.
What do I want people to know? To use another cliche, “We came, we saw and we conquered”. We are one of the pioneers of the rebirth of Downtown Miami and we couldn’t be prouder.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We’d obviously hit City Cigar Lounge every day. Couple of days for happy hour, some nights for a nightcap and cigar, weekends to watch sports while enjoying our favorite beverage and cigar.
For lunch I will hit Sanguich de Miami for the best Cuban or steak sandwiches I’ve ever had.
We’ll also do dinner at Glass and Vine in Coconut Grove, Joe’s Stone Crab, Frenchie’s (the best French restaurant in Miami) and we’ll definitely do tacos at Tacos El Porky in Downtown.
As far as entertainment, what’s a trip to Miami without going to the beach and playing golf.
At night we’ll be at The Wharf and having my guest experience Chi at Brickell City Center. Great food, great show and probably the extent of my “club” experience.
Thankfully, all of our local sports programs are on the rise. The excitement around the University of Miami and Mario Cristobal is incredible and that bandwagon keeps growing. The feeling you get at a winning UM program is like nothing you’ve experienced before and those days are hopefully back.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Arthur Noriega, City of Miami City Managet Alexandra Argudin, Executive Director of Miami Parking Authority
Francis Suarez, City of Miami Mayor
Facebook: City Cigar Lounge
Yelp: City Cigar Lounge