The corner of 43rd Street and Prairie Avenue has a lone structure that has been vacant for a number of years now. The site was home to two adult lounges; both failed for one reason or another. Since then, no one has had the vision to clear the overgrown brush and give the building or the block a fighting chance — until now. There are plans in the works to open an upscale cigar lounge. Business partners Anthony Powell and Maurice Green shared their thoughts on what they have in store for a promising business and what the community can possibly expect in the future.
Why a cigar lounge on East 43rd Street? And what was your gut reaction about a business there?
For many years, I have frequented cigar lounges both in the US and abroad. I have always wondered why there were no cigar lounges on the South Side of Chicago where so many men and women who enjoy cigars reside. When we first started the process of finding a building suitable for our needs, we initially did not consider the Bronzeville area. However, we began noticing that Bronzeville offered so much that I had overlooked. I began researching the rich history of the neighborhood. After a while, we knew that there right before us lay the chance of a lifetime. We had a real chance to help in the revitalization of a neighborhood worthy of our best efforts.
What is your business vision for the block or area?
We want to be a partner, not just a business. We want to give back, not only to our customers, but also our neighbors. We will work hard every day to make the block proud to have a classy establishment in their midst. That means making sure that the area around the property is neat and well cared for. It means we will not allow patrons to linger outside disturbing our neighbors. It means we find ways to participate in community activities both financially and by giving our time.
Tell me about the business and its possible amenities.
Windy City Cigar Lounge is for the man or woman who enjoys cigars and all that entails. Good conversation, good people and great cigars. We want to create a peaceful, relaxed atmosphere that is classy and sexy; a place where you can come and allow the stress of the day to leave your mind. WCCL offers exceptional customer service, with a knowledgeable team to assist you. We offer glass and ice service, a large selection of premium cigars, a game room, WIFI, a member’s lounge with closet, a large patio, six big screen televisions, and much more.
What will make Windy City Cigar Lounge stand out from other cigar bars in the city?
WCCL is an upscale lounge geared to the customer who wants to have a true cigar lounge experience. A place you can invite clients and friends alike and never have to apologize. WCCL wants to be your sanctuary, your nook, the place you frequent for quiet reflection or stimulating conversation.
Is this your first business endeavor?
After spending 28 years as a public servant, I felt it was time to add another chapter to my life. I have smoked cigars the better part of my adult life and while that fact alone won’t make us a success, that time … provided me some tangible knowledge about what cigar smokers want and require when they set out to spend time at their favorite lounge. … yet, I know that valuable experience won’t carry the day. I know what I don’t know, so when it came time to hire staff, I looked for people who had real business experience, people who understand my vision and will be willing to carry that vision out every day.
Urban businesses are often labeled as easy targets for crime. How will you combat this notion?
I don’t adhere to that belief; however, I do believe that when the correct tone is set early, you diminish some of that risk. It’s important that we form positive relationships in the community with all stakeholders. Relationship building will assist in tackling issues as they arise. I won’t share all of our strategy, but I will tell you that security is an issue that I know well. I will tell you now that we take the well-being of our customers and staff very seriously. WCCL will make Bronzeville proud.