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Chamber Welcomes New Businesses to Waukegan

A Cuban Experience, LLC
119 N. Genesee St., Waukegan

A Cuban Experience began as a group of friends, cigar aficionados and boaters, who would meet in the summer at Waukegan Harbor on beautiful Lake Michigan to enjoy cigars and share boating stories. What started as a summertime dock event quickly stretched into the off-boating season. They continued to share their love of cigars with one another and before they knew it, they had formed a social smoking group that continued to grow in size.

A few members have had the privilege of touring manufacturing sites in Honduras, and three years ago went to Cuba to visit Havana and the famous Robaina plantation. Over time, their cigar knowledge and experience grew into rolling cigars for their personal enjoyment. They invested in a rolling machine, molds and a cigar press. They quickly learned the best blends to combine and also which ones not to combine.

Their passion for a quality cigar drove their desire to bring a one-of-a-kind to downtown Waukegan. They are currently in the application process to gain a federal manufacturing license so they can share their unique blends with others.

A Cuban Experience opened in July 2016. The 6,000-square-foot cigar lounge and retail shop is located in the heart of downtown Waukegan, in a historic building on Genesee Street, just steps from the historic Genesee Theatre in the Art and Theatre District.

They are committed to growing this area of Waukegan and supporting their fellow local businesses: all furnishings were bought at Soto’s Furniture, printing is done by Little Fort Media and Olson’s Ace is definitely the place. A Cuban Experience has a BYOB policy for the convenience of their customers and urges customers to frequent the local eateries on Genesee Street.

The Cuban Experience provides a warm and family-like environment. Come to enjoy a cigar, lounge in comfy leather chairs and enjoy a game on the large TVs. Free Wi-Fi is available.

Heart of the City
218 N. Genesee Rd., Waukegan

Soccer is not only a popular sport, but it is also a powerful pathway to youth development. Studies show that young people who play organized soccer are more likely than their counterparts to graduate, attend college and obtain degrees. In addition, young people who participate in soccer often possess a greater capacity for empathy because they learn and grow through moments of success and failure. They also share a more defined connection to the local community because of the way soccer brings friends, families and neighborhoods together.

Unfortunately, not every family can afford to have their child join a soccer team. In fact, many children in Lake County face economic barriers that prevent participation. Heart of the City, a Waukegan-based nonprofit organization, is focused on increasing access to high-quality soccer experiences for this underserved community and leveraging those activities to change the trajectory of young lives throughout the region. Services are aimed at kids who normally would not have the opportunity to play soccer.
Founded in 2014, Heart of the City inspires children to be competitive on the field, successful in school and productive in their community. The charitable organization coupled its existing recreation league with the nationally-recognized North Central United travel club two years ago. The two programs now exist side by side, further increasing access to year-round soccer opportunities and the invaluable life lessons that they provide.

3232 W. Monroe Ave., Waukegan

ZümBier is the first brewery in Waukegan since 1916 when Besleys Waukegan Brewing shut its doors. Founders Larry and Talea Bloom were looking for a career change and a diverse community to host their dream to make beer in a craft beer deprived city.

Since producing the first batch of Hootch #5 their dream has changed and grown with what fueled the local community’s thirst. Today ZümBier has a taproom that serves “innovation biers” alongside traditional German and European styles. “We take the best of our heritage and mix in the freedom of American, ethnic and culinary flavors and ingredients,” Larry said.

“We love Waukegan and having a place to welcome all of our friends and neighbors. Everyone is treated like family here,” Talea added.

The taproom is open five days a week, is pet and family friendly and encourages carry-in or delivery food to increase customers’ enjoyment.

Hours and special events are available online at or

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