xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Laurel cigar lounge seeks city approval

The Laurel City Council is considering amending its zoning law to allow for an upscale cigar lounge to open on Main Street, a move that city leaders hope will bring new patrons to the area.

On Monday the council held its first public hearing on an ordinance that would make way for the first cigar lounge within the city limits. The ordinance is being considered because a petitioner, Sha'ron Harris, has plans to open a cigar lounge called Aroma Lounge MD inside a two-story building at 604 Main St.

Advertisement

At the public hearing, Harris and the building's owner testified in favor of the ordinance. They were the only two to testify. There will be a second public hearing on the item at the council's Nov. 24 meeting. The council will likely vote on and approve the ordinance at that meeting.

If approved, the lounge could open as early as January, Harris said.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The ordinance will amend the zoning code to create a new permissible commercial use called "Retail with Smoking Lounge." The ordinance allows for sale of cigars and tobacco products, as well as alcoholic beverages, with certain restrictions.

The restrictions include an age requirement of 21, no dancing and sale of pre-packaged food be limited to 20 percent of sales.

The Laurel location will be Harris' first retail location, although she said she has experience with cigars from owning her own line of cigars called "Fuerza Cigars." Harris said she is applying for a Class D liquor licenses so that the lounge can sell bottled wine and beer as retail items. She said the license will not allow for a bar at the establishment.

Harris said she is also considering making it BYOB.

Advertisement

She said she wants the business to cater to a "mature crowd."

"I'm really kind of looking for the white-collar, 9-to-5, upscale-type lounge," she said. "My thing is 25-and-older, but I know for the hookah portion there will be a lot of college students."

She said she hopes to segment her business by night: Mondays will be for working professionals, Wednesdays will be hookah night, which she said will attract younger crowds; Thursdays will be "ladies night," Fridays she intends to have live music and Tuesdays will be open.

Harris said her business fills a need, and the closest competition is in College Park, Baltimore and Washington.

"There will definitely be a need for it," she said. "The closest one I have visited is 25 to 30 minutes away."

Michael Deloatch, Harris' business consultant, said the idea is to create a "retreat" for patrons.

"We just want an atmosphere where people can relax and escape," he said.

Council President Fred Smalls said the biggest concern for the council was the age limit; he said they wanted to make sure it was appropriate.

"One of the keys was making sure there was an age restriction on it so young people, who shouldn't be in that kind of environment, wouldn't be," he said. "I've talked to [Harris] on several occasions, she's talked to other council members, and she plans to run a well-run, well-operated business. I think it's something to look forward to."

Smalls added that he thinks the lounge could be a regional draw for Laurel's Main Street because of its uniqueness.

"One of the things businesses like this will do is bring people to Main Street who otherwise would not come," he said. "And hopefully they will discover parts of Main Street, other than that destination, that they will want to come back and patronize."

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement