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New Toraño Ad Campaign "Our Roots Run Deep"
Friday, 05 December 2008

One of only a handful of truly authentic cigar-industry stories, the Toraño family is now in its fourth generation, and only eight years away from a century of producing fine tobacco and premium cigars. From its 1916 beginnings in Havana, Cuba, the family-owned brand has filled an important role, and made epochal contributions that span several countries. Company president Charlie Toraño states, "Recognizing the importance of our Cuban origins and our family's decades of accomplishments, we are transitioning our marketing thrust from product and lifestyle ads to a new advertising campaign, reminding consumers of the bedrock Toraño name" "Our Roots Run Deep" is the theme of the new ads, the first of which appeared in the October issue of the consumer magazines. The ads will maintain the same format, spotlighting Charlie and his father Carlos (board chairman). An open, partially-filled cigar box features the message. This template concept will have changing photos and text, but will remain an ongoing, recognizable appearance. The "Our Roots Run Deep" message, combined with a tobacco-plant graphic, fortifies awareness of their Cuban heritage. The first ad's secondary headline, "Never Smoke Alone," points to the Toraño spirit, which accompanies the smoker in every cigar experience. The company was founded in 1916 by Santiago Toraño in Havana, Cuba. His son, Carlos, expanded the tobacco growing business into one of the most prestigious on the island. Among the company's clients in the 1950's was the factory of his brother-in-law, Ramon Cifuentes (Partagas), as well as the factories of H. Upmann and the Tampa-based of J. C. Newman family. Upon their 1959 exile from Cuba, Carlos joined General Cigar's Connecticut Valley farming operation, as a tobacco growing and processing specialist. Shortly thereafter, Carlos became a pioneer in the Dominican Republic, introducing Piloto Cubano seed there, and teaching the Dominicans how to properly process it. Piloto Cubano is a bulwark of the industry to this day. He was so respected for laying the foundation of what became the world's largest cigar producing country, its government honored him in a special obituary in the national newspaper. After his death, his son, the present Carlos, took the helm of the company, and the family made a major shift in the 1990's, by focusing on cigar production. Their factories in Honduras and Nicaragua presently make their own brands, and they have several tobacco processing facilities. The ads will run in major cigar trade and consumer publications on an ongoing basis. Future promotional plans include the use of the "Our Roots Run Deep" theme on branded merchandise, which will be featured at events across the country. Bruce Lewis, Brand Manager for Toraño, adds, "As a result of the family's depth of experience and expertise, they have successfully launched more than 10 brands, the majority of which have received 90+ ratings, as well as international awards and accolades. Our future goal will be to continue developing new and exciting blends for cigar lovers to enjoy, including the soon-to-be-released Tribute 2008 and the new Exodus 50th Anniversary." Carlos (left) and Charlie Toraño share the spotlight in a new ad campaign, "Our Roots Run Deep," honoring the family's Cuban roots and near-century in tobacco and premium cigars


601 & Cubao Event at Puros Fine Cigars in Miami
Friday, 05 December 2008

Saturday, 22 November, brought the first 601 /Cubao event since Miami Cigar & Company took over distribution of these highly popular, well regarded cigars. Of course, United Tobacco still handles the 'events' end of the marketing, and Raul Cruz, United's Operations Manager, did a superb job both in putting the event together with Alejandro Alcorta of Puros Fine Cigars in Miami. The deals they created (see the 'menu' below) were extraordinary and the 125 plus people that attended the event took advantage of them, as readily as they filled their stomachs with one hundred pounds of roast pig! Complimentary beverages of all sorts were poured by two of the most attractive women that I have seen in my sixty-seven years. The event started at 1:00 PM and at 10:00 PM, the Puros staff was begging people to leave. Smoking cigars, drinking and playing in the domino tournament made the job of sending the customers home very difficult. Miami Cigar & Company was well represented by Managing Director/Nat'l Sales Manager Rene Castaneda and President, Nestor Miranda. In addition to Raul Cruz, Erik Espinoza, one of United Tobacco Inc.'s founders was present, while his partner, Eddie Ortega was in Tampa, FL for another event. The sales of full boxes of 601 and Cubao were brisk; with add ons such as sample packs; specially designed tee shirts, etc. Israel Delgado, a Miami-Dade Police Sergeant with the K-9 Squad, was presented with the first flat screen television obtained through the 601 Rewards Program ( The television required Delgado to submit 1,100 - 601 cigar bands. They could be either, or a combination of the red label Habano, the blue label Maduro, the black label Connecticut or the green label Oscuro. "I started to save my cigar bands in late May, shortly after the program was announced by Espinosa y Ortega. I submitted my request for the TV and sent them the bands, for their audit, in early November." Delgado, who like many of his fellow police officers frequents Puros Fine Cigars (10792 Coral Way, Miami, FL – 305.222.2217), was presented with his TV by Erik Espinosa and Raul "Ruly" Cruz of EO. Both companies are well known for the caliber of events they do, and this one was no exception. It is obvious that this was a great event and a wonderful time was had when you view the photos below.  


Dallas Cigar Bars Exempt, Not All Meet Criteria
Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Cuba hardly shines as liberty's emblem. But in Dallas, the cubano-themed Havana Social Club is poised to become one of the few places in Dallas, perhaps the only one, where tobacco-loving barflies can smoke a cigarette or stogie with their rum, beer or mojito. Dallas' newly expanded smoking ordinance, which city officials will begin enforcing April 10, will allow smoking in bars only if they generate at least 15 percent of their gross revenue from the "sale or rental of tobacco, tobacco products, smoking implements, or smoking accessories for on-premises consumption." That percentage had to exist as of last Wednesday. The Havana Social Club, a year-old haunt in Victory Plaza with its leather chairs and stocked humidor, should easily qualify for the "cigar bar" exception, its owner says. The cigar bar provision will not, however, apply to most other Dallas bars, which generate most of their revenue from alcohol and food. It also means an established Dallas bar that doesn't today derive 15 percent of its gross revenue from tobacco and tobacco-related sales cannot suddenly do so and expect to fall under the city's cigar bar clause, Interim Assistant City Manager Forest Turner said. "I feel really bad for all the bar owners," said Havana Social Club owner Carlos Rodriguez, a Cuban native who vocally lobbied the Dallas City Council against a city smoking ordinance expansion. On Wednesday, the expansion passed 10-5, with many council members declaring the decision a victory for Dallasites' health. "But I must say: It's a huge plus for me," Mr. Rodriguez said. "We're going to have a big, big increase in business." City officials aren't sure how many Dallas establishments will fall under the expanded smoking ordinance's cigar bar clause, although they'll soon begin to research the matter, said Ahsan Khan, Dallas City Hall's division manager for food protection and education. But owners of at least two businesses that feature a smoking theme fear they'll be forced to extinguish their tobacco offerings next year. "I'd have to run the numbers, but my cigar and tobacco sales probably account for 10 percent at best," said Amier Taherzadeh, owner of the Chateau Wine Market and Bodega Bar, which today boasts a well-appointed cigar lounge. "Is it going to kill my business to close the cigar bar? I don't think so. But it will have some impact." Mr. Taherzadeh added that he'll likely still sell cigars for use in the courtyard portion of his business, as it remains legal in Dallas to smoke on a restaurant or bar patio or deck. John Alsenih, owner of Dallas restaurant and bar Al-Amir, said smoking a hookah, a water pipe containing tobacco, is a popular pastime among his patrons. "The vast majority of my sales are not water pipes, though," Mr. Alsenih said. "Not doing hookah will affect alcohol sales. It might help food sales. If business was a little stronger, it might be OK. But we're all on the edge in this economy. And hookah is just part of the tradition and experience." One business expecting to capitalize on Dallas' smoking ban is Black Fin, a popular bar on Belt Line Road in Addison, a few blocks from the Dallas city limit. Bar manager Mark Holguin predicted his business would markedly increase, since Addison's smoking law is among the more liberal in North Texas, allowing people to puff in restaurants and bars alike. "We already get a fair amount of people from smoking restricted areas, and that's about to go up," Mr. Holguin said. "In Addison, we're going to try to stay a smoking city as long as we can." Dallas officials, meanwhile, are busy finalizing what they say will be a four-month-long effort to educate businesses about the new smoking ordinance so they're ready to comply with it come April. Dallas officials expect to spend $271,000 annually to enforce the ordinance, Mr. Turner said. Violators face $200 tickets. But at Havana Social Club, the ashtrays will remain. "Sometimes you're just lucky," Mr. Rodriguez mused.


Great Cigar Bars in Tampa
Tuesday, 16 December 2008

With a rich history dating back to the cigar factories of Ybor City, Tampa has definitely earned its nickname as Cigar City. Here are some great places to buy and savor a good stogie. Cigar Castle At 1,000 square feet, its humidor is about the size of a one-bedroom apartment. Walk inside and find virtually every brand imaginable. This 4-year-old shop and lounge has about 1,000 open boxes of cigars for picking and choosing. Create your own box and get a discount. Cigar Castle has five 42-inch TVs and a large projection screen for watching sports and DVDs customers can bring from home. The outdoor patio hosts monthly free cigar tastings. 11724 N 56th St., Temple Terrace, (813) 985-1300 Club Habano Cigars Former cigar salesman Pedro Rivero Jr. brought a little bit of Ybor to Carrollwood with the recent opening of Club Habano. The cigar store and lounge serves wine, beer and sangria, made with a secret ingredient Rivero only tells his customers. The shop has domino tables, leather couches and big-screen televisions. The smell of Spanish cedar, not cigar smoke, fills the air. 11642 N Dale Mabry Highway, Carrollwood, (813) 269-0400 Edward's Pipe & Tobacco Don't be surprised to see people waiting outside the door when Edward's opens at 8 a.m. This cigar shop has a loyal following that comes for the cigars, camaraderie and coffee, which is free all day. Founded in 1960, the store carries a variety of smoking products, including high-end lighters and wooden pipes that were once made on site. Smoke a stogie in the lounge or drop by for a 4 p.m. domino game. The store recently added a patio for hosting events and watching football. 3235 Henderson Blvd., Tampa, (813) 872-0723 Gaspar's Cigar Shoppe A former UPS store inspired D.C. Goutoufas to open a cigar lounge where people could access their lockers for a smoke 24 hours a day. Gaspar's operates as a normal cigar lounge during the day, with a coffee bar and TVs. Late night, Goutoufas locks up the retail area with a metal partition and lets members come and go using an access code. 3765 S West Shore Blvd., Tampa, (813) 831-0100 King Corona Cigars Owner Don Barco describes his shop as a microcosm of what Ybor used to be. Customers can smoke a cigar, get a shave in the barber shop, order a Cuban sandwich in the cafe or sip port at the bar. Founded in 1938, the store carries a good selection of guayaberas, panama hats and humidors. The patio area makes for great people-watching along Seventh Avenue. 1523 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City, (813) 241-9109 El Sol Cigars Founded in 1929 by Guy and Mary Saitta, El Sol is considered the oldest cigar store in Tampa. Grandson Robert Saitta runs the business today, selling and shipping El Sol Cigars made in small factories in Tampa, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Also available: antique cigar cutters and boxes and cigar label T-shirts. Old photos of the family making cigars grace the walls. 1728 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City, (813) 248-5905 Metropolitan Cigars There's no specific place to light up, but customers are welcome to test drive a new purchase. The store sells it all, from lighters to cutters to humidors and other cigar accessories. Antoinette Capitano and her family run the business, which was founded by her husband, Sonny Capitano Jr., about 15 years ago. The family is friends with Bill Cosby, who's been known to stop by every so often for a chat and a smoke. 2014 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City, (813) 248-3304 Stogie Castillo's This cigar lounge has comfy leather couches, chess tables and even a big TV set up with Guitar Hero. On weekends, passersby can watch a cigar roller at work in the front window. 1600 E Eighth Ave., Centro Ybor, (813) 418-6937


The Padron Cigar Factory in Esteli, Nicaragua
Thursday, 01 January 2009

{mosimage} It is a testament to the tragedy of modern Nicaragua that the world is better acquainted with the names of its rebel groups and dictators than its world-class coffee, rum, and tobacco products. But with time and a little luck that will soon change, and the name Nicaragua will conjure, among other happier aspects of this remarkable country, its award-winning aromas and tastes: the organic coffee grown on the misty mountaintops of Selva Negra farms; the golden rums barrel-aged by Flor de Cana; and, of course, the sun-grown Habano tobacco harvested annually in Esteli by one of the best-respected names in the cigar business, Jose Orlando Padron. Padron was well on his way to becoming a world-famous cigar maker when he was introduced to Nicaraguan tobacco. The year was 1969, and his young Miami-based company was thriving. Since starting Padron Cigars in 1964 with a single roller under his supervision, Padron had been buying tobacco from multiple sources in the Caribbean and North America to produce blends that approximated the taste of cigars in his native Cuba. That began to change shortly after being contacted by a Nicaraguan who requested a meeting in a Miami hotel room.


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