FISHERS, Ind. — People were first introduced to the new Havana Cigar Lounge (located at the Fishers District [9707 District North Drive #1110]) back in March when they made the news for using what would have been their grand opening as an opportunity to thank local first responders and city workers by giving away over 600 free meals.
Now, they have officially opened their doors to the public and emerged as the area’s new must-visit social spot that feels like a sophisticated escape from reality.
We’re enjoying a VIP experience at Fisher’s newest see-and-be-seen lounge on this week’s trip In Your Neighborhood.
Havana Cigar Lounge owner/founder Omar Barham said it was always a dream of his to get into the cigar business. And — as a long-time Fisher’s resident— when the opportunity presented itself, he knew precisely where he wanted it to be.
“There’s a lot in Fishers and there’s good culture in Fishers but I felt like this could add to the Fishers scene,” he explained.
Having owned a tobacco factory back home in the Middle East, he wanted to combine his expertise in that field with his vision for a unique, sophisticated experience in the fast-growing Fisher’s District.
“My vision is simple. I want you to walk in here and I don’t want you to feel like you’re in Indiana…I wanted you to feel like you’re in Vegas, Miami…you call it,” he said.
But that’s not to say he doesn’t adore the Hoosier state. For Barham, bringing something new to the state he has long called home is one way of showing his love to his community.
“We needed something that was a little bit of a different flavor,” he noted. “So the vision was always like you step in here and this is not another normal cigar lounge or just another lounge or restaurant but it offers a different atmosphere.”
From the palm trees to the massive artwork, live edge bar and opulent hanging lights, it’s easy to get transported to a different place when you step inside Havana Cigar Lounge.
Especially when you add their seasonal menu of great Latin food created by chef Ricky Martinez— formerly of Delicia and La Mulita in SoBro.
“He has proven over and over that he’s the man to go to if you’d like some of that Latin flavor,” said Barham, who noted he had been a longtime supporter and friend of the chef before bringing him to Havana.
In fact, he had so much faith in Martinez, he gave him the the go-ahead to freely pursue his own culinary vision.
“I didn’t really specifically ask him to give me a certain menu,” Barham recalled. “I just said, ‘You know what, I know nothing about food— except when it’s good— and [said] go ahead’ and he has been terrific.”
Martinez calls his food “new Latin cuisine”, incorporating flavors from South America, Spain, Peru and Mexico.
“What we do is we take an idea, a dish that we try to not change it but make it better in a way,” Martinez explained.
Their menu includes items like Spanish octopus— topped off with garlic butter Romesco sauce and roasted peppers— as well as herb-crusted lamb chops, salmon, ceviche de stun, croquettes, the Cubano, and their top-selling empanadas.
“It’s a combination of the beef Barbacoa in Mexico and the Cuban beef… and I finish it with some julienned peppers, olives, and also the spices that you find on a Cuban beef,” said Martinez.
One of the other hallmarks of Martinez menu is not only is it pleasing to the taste buds, but it’s just as delicious visually.
One of the most challenging things as a chef, however, if when he’s asked which item on the menu is his personal favorite.
“Picking a dish is like picking my favorite child, but I would say short ribs,” he shared. “They’re braised short ribs.. braised for 5 hours and when you’re eating the short ribs they’re [basically] melting in your mouth.”
But this is a cigar lounge so there’s also an entire menu dedicated to their vast selection of cigars that you can check out inside their large walk-in humidor.
“We carry ourselves as the VIP experience [so] we partner up with a very selective group of cigar manufacturers such as Fuente, such as Davidoff, Drew Estate… and we have been very successful into cultivating those relationships and been able to find very sought-after cigars,” Barham said.
But what you won’t find here is an overwhelming smell of smoke— which Barham said is all by design and through a specially engineered filtration system designed by a local firm.
“[It’s] considered the Rolls Royce of HVACs and we didn’t get one of them. We got two of them,” he noted.
For a truly VIP experience, Havana offers a yearly membership program.
It grants access to the VIP lounge, which is accessible through a secret door hidden in the wall.
Membership perks include a personalized humidified cigar locker, complementary stocked bar, luxurious social business space, private high speed wifi, preferred access and pre-sale to events and products and more.
As he looks around and reflects on what he has been able to offer his community through Havana Cigar Lounge, Barham beams with pride for more than one reason.
“This is my first cigar experience bar and a lot of people doubted that I could actually pull this off….I have other businesses, other restaurants that have done well but I just wasn’t supposed to make it,” he recalled. “[But] so far [we] have a huge following with how beautiful this is and how amazing this is and I’m really proud of that.”
Four Things You Need to Know About Havana Cigar Lounge:
- Havana Cigar Lounge is open Sunday- Wednesday from 12 pm-12 am and Thursday -Saturday from 12 pm-1 am, so you can visit them for lunch, dinner or late night.
- According to owner/founder Omar Barham, Havana is dedicated to the VIP experience. When it comes to cigars, that means they carry an array of sought after cigars thanks to their partnerships with manufacturers like Fuente, Davidoff and Drew Estate. And thanks to thoughtful design and a specially engineered filtration system, you won’t notice an overwhelming smell of cigar smoke inside.
- They offer a Latin-inspired seasonal menu created by chef Ricky Martinez. Some of their most popular items include the Spanish octopus, the Cubano, herb-crusted lamb and their top-selling empanadas.
- They offer indoor seating and patio seating for all patrons. For an even more elite VIP experience, they offer an annual membership program, which grants access to a private VIP lounge that is only accessible through a secret door hidden in a wall. Perks include a personalized humidified cigar locker, complementary stocked bar, luxurious social business space, private high speed wifi, preferred access and pre-sale to events and products— just to name a few.
The other reason?
Barham’s story is a about as close as it gets to a real-life story of The American Dream
As a well-known entrepreneur in the area, Barham already has a string of successful local businesses in Hamilton and Marion Counties— including the car dealership he is most known for: Coast to Coast Imports (and The Collection by Coast to Coast Imports). So it’s easy to assume that— nowadays— everything he touches seems to easily turn to gold. But many may not realize how inspirational his backstory truly is.
“I come from a very humble beginning. I was born in Kuwait and came to the United States at the tender age of 18 to go to college,” Barham shared. “[I] went to college on the west coast [at] UCLA and Cal State LA…When I graduated in ’94, I just came [to Indiana] to work for Roche pharmaceuticals and thought ‘This is what I’m going to be doing…working in that pharmacy business.”
But four years into what was a promising career at Roche, his entire trajectory changed.
“My younger brother, Yousef, started Coast to Coast imports, which was a small little mom-and-pop shop on the east side… I worked for him for a few months and figured this is what I really like to do and switched careers and got into the car business,” Barham recalled with a smile. “And the car business has been very good to us.”
Now that’s a success story that deserves a cigar.
For more information about Havana Cigar Lounge, check out their website by clicking here. To see more photos and reviews by local Yelpers, check out their Yelp profile. You can also connect with them on social media via Facebook and Instagram.
While in the Fishers District, check out these other must-visit local businesses nearby: