Cigar City Magazine/Nov-Dec 2010

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Cigar City, Inc. | P.O. Box 18613 | Tampa, Florida 33679 Tel 813-373-9988 | Fax 1-866-869-0617 E-mail: ©2010, Cigar City, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use without written permission of the publisher, of editorial, pictorial, or design content, in any manner is prohibited. The opinions of writers commissioned for articles are not necessarily those of the publisher. All advertising is subject to approval before acceptance. Publisher reserves the right to refuse any advertisement for any reason whatsoever. Publisher assumes no responsibility for claims made by advertisers. All letters, emails and their contents sent to Cigar City, Inc. become the sole property of the publisher and may be used and published in any manner whatsoever without limit and without obligation or liability to the author there of.



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The Evolution of Tampa’s Franklin Street The Odyssey of Carlos Carbonell




10 12 14 16 42 48 50 52 62 62

Cigar Label History

Looking Back: This Month in Florida History

Lost Landmarks

Look Who’s Smokin’

Blood is Thicker

Café con Leche Interview: Sam Leccia, of Nub Cigar

The Kitchen

On The Town with Dave Capote


Did You Know?

Visit us at

Punch Cigar Label circa 1870's this Punch label is a Cuban litho and is extemely rare to find these days. the cigar manufacturer has been around since the 1860's and is still a current brand today, with Dominican tobacco used for the U.S. and Cuban tobacco for the rest of the world.


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IN THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER November 7, 1873 Tampa resident Joseph Fry, captain of the Virginius, is executed by a Spanish firing squad in Cuba for bringing arms and ammunition to Cuban rebels fighting for their independence. November 9, 1938 By a vote of 23–2, Tampa residents decide to incorporate the Town of Tampa. November 16, 1969 First Lieutenant Baldomero Lopez, USMC, of Tampa is killed during the invasion of Inchon, Korea. He is awarded the Medal of Honor for sacrificing his life to save the lives of his men. November 23, 1909 The Tampa City Council votes to rename the city’s portion of Buffalo Avenue for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

IN THE MONTH OF DECEMBER December 7, 1967 Tino Martinez, former Major League Baseball first baseman, Jefferson High School graduate, and University of Tampa standout, is born in Tampa. December 13, 1962 Coldest day in Tampa history–18 degrees. December 23, 1986 The first Outback Bowl, then known as the Hall of Fame Game, is played in Tampa Stadium with Boston College defeating Georgia 27–24. December 25, 1837 In the Battle of Okeechobee U.S. forces defeated the Seminole Indians.

Today in Florida History is provided by the Tampa Bay History Center. 12

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Can you identify this Lost Landmark?

Congratulations to Ken Russell of Sarasota, FL, who guessed last issue's Lost Landmark! The Mercantile Building at 300 Washington Street, on the corner of Washington and Franklin Streets in Tampa, Florida, 1881.

Simply mail the answer and your name to:

Lost Landmarks C/O Cigar City Magazine P.O. Box 18613 • Tampa, Florida 33679 or email us at by December 1, 2010. All correct entries will be entered into a drawing and one name will be selected as the winner. Your name will be featured in our next issue of Cigar City Magazine. Good luck!


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Look WhosSmokin

He’s ready for his close up Mr. DeMille. After toiling in Hollywood obscurity for nearly two decades, former West Tampa resident Jose Carlos Perez is ready for the big time thanks to Lying Right Here, a new 15minute film in which he is both star and executive producer. The film recently debuted at the sixth annual HollyShorts Film Festival and Perez, who goes by the stage name Julian Flynn, is certain that in 2011 the movie will be showing at film festivals around the world. Lying Right Here is the story of Nico and Cutter, two dirty cops who retired early after keeping money they found at the bust of a major crime lord. Five years later, the crime lord is murdered in prison and bequeaths his remaining fortune to the two cops who ripped him off. All Nico and Cutter have to do is pick up the fortune … at an abandoned junkyard … in the middle of the night. “It is an awesome film,” said the 48-year-old Perez. “I am proud that I was a part of it.” He was more than simply a part of it. He was a major reason this film came to fruition. After enduring four auditions, Perez was cast in the role of Nico. He had been in a number of commercials over the years, but this was his first starring role in a film. Originally, Lying Right Here was only supposed to be a student film for NYU film student and director Chad Knutsen, but after the first cut of the film was assembled and shown to Perez he thought it had more potential than simply a college project. Perez began reaching out to industry friends he had made over the years and assembled a top-notch post production team to re-edit the film. “And they turned it into something special,” said Perez. Not only did the new edit help get the film into the HollyShorts Film Festival, but it has helped to land Perez more film acting roles. He was recently cast in Joshua Tree– a full length feature film starring Michael Madsen of Reservoir Dogs fame and Vincent Pastore of The Sopranos, which is slated to premiere in 2011. And he is confident that more roles are going to follow.


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by Paul Guzzo

For Perez, this newfound success has been a long time coming. Born in Havana, Cuba, his parents fled with him when he was a young boy, moving to Spain for one year, then Miami for another year before relocating to West Tampa, where he spent his formative years. Upon graduating from high school, he served in the U.S. military as an airborne infantry paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division for three years and then another three as a reservist. Upon returning to West Tampa, he began pursuing an acting career. “I didn’t plan on becoming an actor,” he said, “I just kind of fell into it.” He met a gentleman who was producing a television pilot in Clearwater and who thought that Perez had the look to play a gangster in the show. It was a small part with no dialogue, but being on the set was enough to convince Perez that he wanted to become an actor. He enrolled in an acting class and honed his talent, earning money and experience in numerous independent films being shot in Miami. He earned his SAG card for his work in a deodorant commercial starring Steffi Graf. However, when filing for his SAG card, he learned that there was already a working actor by his name. He wanted to stand out, so chose the stage name Julian Flynn. “No real reason,” he explained. “I needed a name and I saw the name Flynn on a business card and then came up with a first name and my stage name was born!” And so was a star in the making. In 1994, he decided it was time to move on to the big time. His first stop was New York, but after only three weeks, he realized that most acting opportunities in the Big Apple were in theatre; he wanted to become a film star. So he packed his bags and headed west for L.A. Since then, he has stayed busy as an extra in several major films and as a commercial actor, biding his time until his big break came. He hopes that Lying Right Here gets him the recognition he needs to continue to pursue larger projects, including a film he has written, Tea for Four, about two brothers who seek to find out if life should be lived safely or passionately. “A lot of people think I look like Andy Garcia,” he said. “So in a perfect world, I could get him to star in it with me. We’ll see what happens. Hollywood is a tough and competitive town. There are a lot of people trying to make it big here. Hopefully, I’ll get my big shot sooner than later.”

Shortly after this interview, Flynn’s film Lying Right Here won the "Audience Choice Award" at HollyShorts Film Festival.




Long Hard Road: The Evolution of Tampa's Franklin Street By Emanuel Leto

(A version of this article previously appeared in Creative Loafing.)

Franklin Street, 1950s.


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there’s a hole at the heart of downtown Tampa–Franklin Street. Large portions of this historic thoroughfare sit idle, and they’ve remained that way for decades. The blight on central Franklin is not only sad; its persistence throws into question the progress that is finally being made in downtown as a whole.


Tampa’s Main Street

osh Dohring remembers when the residential population in downtown Tampa was mostly made up of people who were forced to live there: the inmates of the Morgan Street Jail. Much has changed since his family began brokering real estate in downtown more than 25 years ago. “We were here before downtown was hip,” said Dohring, who owns an office and retail building at 514 Franklin and another on Tampa Street one block over. “Tampa’s a little slower, but downtown as a concept is coming back,” he says. As his business slowly recovers from the Great Recession, his phone is finally ringing again. “If you look at where the development is happening, it’s in the core, not in the outlying areas.”


ranklin is a street full of firsts. The city’s first electric lights lined Franklin by 1887. It was the first in the city to be paved, the first to have sidewalks. The city’s first brick building, the Bank of Tampa, was built on Franklin in 1886. In 1885, Tampa’s first streetcar, a steam-powered contraption with passenger cars similar to a freight train’s, rambled up a sand-covered Franklin on a narrow track to a nascent Ybor City. By 1900, electric streetcars traveled up and down the street on 21 miles of track connecting downtown to Ybor, West Tampa, Sulphur Springs and Ballast Point. As Tampa boomed at the turn of the 20th century, Franklin’s status as the city’s commercial core was firmly in place. Tampa’s first Woolworth’s opened there in 1915; Maas Brothers, Tampa’s

Traveling the length of Tampa’s historic main street, THE LOSS OF CONTEXT IS PALPABLE. From the north end, with its mostly two and four-story brick storefronts situated along wide sidewalks,

to the south end at the Convention Center, YOU CAN VIEW 110 YEARS OF URBAN DEVELOPEMENT IN JUST 25 BLOCKS. Over the last decade, Tampa’s notoriously sleepy downtown has witnessed a development boom. Condo and apartment buildings like Skypoint, Element and The Residences on Franklin, as well as public projects like the Tampa Museum of Art, Curtis Hixon Park and the Tampa Bay History Center, have reinvigorated the downtown core. Smaller-scale projects came on line as well. The Arlington Hotel and Fly Bar have injected life into the newly designated national historic district on North Franklin, while new commercial tenants fill storefronts along Twiggs Street. Transit options are also expanding. The TECO Street Car is creeping north to Whiting Street, and a 120-mile-an-hour highspeed rail line is set to zoom into the north end of downtown in 2015. But despite the accelerated pace of development over the last 10 years and the potential of rail to “re-center” the city,

first department store, expanded to a six-story building on Franklin in 1921. The Tampa Theatre–the city’s first air-conditioned movie house–opened on Franklin in 1926. By the middle of the 20th century, however, the prominence of the avenue had faded with the growing allure of wide-open suburban spaces. By 1963, the newly constructed interstate was whisking everyone away. As Tampa’s in-town population dwindled, retailers struggled: Maas Brothers closed in 1991; Woolworth’s hung on until 1992. Since the 1970s, everyone, it seems, has had a plan to revitalize Franklin Street. In 1973, then-mayor Dick Greco drove a pickaxe into the middle of the street, signaling the groundbreaking for a pedestrian mall. Twenty-eight years later, a re-elected Mayor Greco reopened the mall to vehicular traffic. In the 1980s and early ’90s, development was focused nOVeMBer/DeCeMBer 2010


Maas Brothers expanded into neighboring storefronts along Franklin Street. The Strand Theatre, constructed in the 1920s, became part of Maas Brothers by the 1940s.


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almost exclusively on Franklin Street’s south end: the “Quad Block” (comprising the Hyatt Regency and Tampa City Center), the Ft. Brooke Parking Garage, and the Tampa Convention Center all sprung up during this period. Meanwhile, Franklin Street north of Kennedy sat idle. The inattention would prove disastrous. A 1991 study succinctly predicted, “Vacant buildings [along Franklin Street] have a high probability of remaining vacant…and will continue to age and risk being unsuitable for any use.” It was an apt assessment. In 2006 the city condemned the Maas Brothers Building, which had anchored the corner of Franklin and Twiggs for more than 70 years. The downtown department store, vacant since 1991, was demolished. Over the years, the Maas Brothers had expanded haphazardly, acquiring adjoining structures along Franklin and Zack and absorbing the Strand Theatre, a contemporary of the Tampa Theatre, in the 1930s. When Maas Brothers came down, the Strand and several other buildings on the block went down with it. In March of 2007, a fire ripped through the 1926 Albany Hotel at 1100 North Franklin. The Albany had been vacant for decades. The fire leaped south, consuming another vacant building at Tyler and Franklin. In May of this year, Fuel Development demolished a group of two-story brick buildings on South Franklin Street, directly across from the Convention Center. Some of the last historic structures south of Kennedy Boulevard were gone before anyone noticed. According to the city’s historic preservation manager, Dennis Fernandez, the properties were not protected under the city’s preservation laws and the property owners had no obligation to save them. “They had lost their context,” he said. Traveling the length of Tampa’s historic main street, the loss of context is palpable. From the north end, with its mostly two and four-story brick storefronts situated along wide sidewalks, to the south end at the Convention Center, you can view 110 years of urban development in just 25 blocks. It’s like traveling along a life-sized timeline. Now, with the row of brick structures south of Kennedy gone, a transformation that began with the construction of the Ft. Brooke Garage in 1980, the Quad Block in 1983, and the Convention Center in 1991 is complete; the corner of Franklin and Platt Street could be the corner of any major thoroughfare anywhere in Tampa.

Stuck in Park


n December 2009, Seven One Seven Parking Enterprises purchased the former Maas Brothers property for $2.7 million, 24 percent of what it sold for in 2006. The property will open this month as a surface-level parking lot, a far cry from the lofty 27-story condo tower originally slated for the site. “It’s not the highest and best use,” said Josh Dohring, “but we do need the parking.”

David Bailey, owner of 719 Franklin, home of Tampa’s best-known dive bar, The Hub, has a different view. He says Tampa’s “obsession” with surface parking lots is an impediment to healthy development. “By allowing so many surface parking lots within downtown, we are effectively short-circuiting our streetscape’s connectivity,” said Bailey, an architect who lives in Ybor City. “There are far more sophisticated ways of dealing with [the issue of parking] than plopping surface parking lots all over the place.” “Interim parking lots fill a gap in the downtown area,” counters Jason Accardi, owner of Seven One Seven Parking, which manages about 70 surface lots in the downtown core. Accardi argues that surface lots are a “necessary evil,” providing needed options for downtown workers and visitors. “Every property owner in downtown would develop their property if they had a chance,” said Accardi. Well, maybe not every property owner. Some are sitting on their land–and waiting. “Buying and holding is the enemy of preservation and development,” particularly along Franklin Street, says Stephanie Ferrell, a preservation architect and developer of the 100-year-old Arlington Hotel property on the 1200 block of North Franklin. Market speculation in the downtown core is nothing new. A 1976 study bluntly concluded, "More is being expected of land values than can ever be achieved." Christine Burdick of the Downtown Partnership still wrestles with the same problem 30 years later. She says property owners often "hold onto land, waiting for an unimaginable increase in property value." And while they wait, North Franklin’s historic buildings sit in a kind of stasis, continuing to deteriorate.


900 UNITS.

The Kress project received a 6–0 approval from the City Council MAYOR PAM IORIO AND OTHER DOWNTOWN LEADERS.


nOVeMBer/DeCeMBer 2010


Hillsborough County Planning Commission estimates THERE ARE 2,080 PEOPLE Wallflower



he elephant in the room is the three-building complex known as the Kress Block. A five-and-dime chain with over 400 stores across the country including nine in Florida, S.H. Kress and Company went out of business in 1980. Interest in the property waxed and waned throughout the 1980s, and ownership changed hands several times. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 when one early project was announced. Another effort to develop the property fell through around 1988. It seemed North Franklin would remain, in the words of a Tampa Tribune columnist, "a wallflower." By 2005, the Doran Jason Group of Coral Gables had acquired all three buildings that now comprise the Kress Block, including the Kress Building and the two neighboring structures, the former F.W. Woolworth’s and J.J. Newberry’s, purchased in 1994. The group announced plans to develop the property, which called for demolition of the Woolworth building. The local historic preservation community vigorously protested. Built in 1927, the Woolworth building is one of the few examples of Art Deco architecture in downtown. More importantly, in 1960, 57 African-Americans from Tampa participated in a civil rights sit-in at the still-segregated downtown five-and-dime. After protracted legal wrangling, Doran Jason agreed to save only the facades of the remaining buildings to make way for three residential towers totaling more than 900 units. The Kress project received a 6–0 approval from the City Council and the vocal support of Mayor Pam Iorio and other downtown leaders. But the project succumbed to the housing downturn and bureaucratic delays. Christine Burdick says that "while the city dithered" about proposed heights and preservation, the market tanked. "It’s important to incentivize preservation, but it shouldn’t retard development," she said. In July, City Attorney Chip Fletcher asked the City Council to terminate the 2006 memorandum of understanding requiring that the buildings’ facades be preserved. If approved, the Doran Jason Group could revert to its original 2005 plan, freeing them to demolish both the Woolworth and Newberry buildings. The request seemed to catch some council members off guard. “I don’t feel like this is going through the proper process… this is a big request, to change what is settled law about this property,” said Councilwoman Mary Mulhern. The action was


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continued until August 26, 2010 and then inexplicably withdrawn from the council agenda. Meanwhile, the Kress Block remains an eyesore–a looming, discouraging presence–both for North Franklin and for the other streets it faces (Cass, Polk and Florida). Residents and business owners look at the building and other boarded-up hulks nearby and shake their heads in disappointment. "A healthy streetscape can overlook a blighted property here or there, but when you have two entire blocks of blight, that becomes a wall against progress," said property owner David Bailey. Josh Dohring echoes Bailey’s sentiments. "The Kress is the thorn in the side of downtown Tampa," he said. In 2009, the Doran Jason Group was cited by Tampa code enforcement for failing to meet minimum standards to safely secure the Kress building. According to District Code Enforcement Supervisor Kevin Amos, the upper-floor windows of the Kress are open to the elements and groundwater continues to seep into the basement. Although the building is structurally sound, Doran Jason Group has been fined $250-a-day since July of 2009. Several attempts to reach the Doran Jason Group for comment were unsuccessful. There are no known plans to develop the property any time soon.

“The Cool Factor”


arther up the street, however, in “Upper North Franklin Historic District,” there are encouraging signs of life. Cheong Choi is getting ready for an art show at Café Hey, a tiny coffee shop and lunch spot he opened two years ago that has quickly grown into a destination for hip Tampa. Residents from nearby Tampa Heights and Ybor City, along with a host of local artists, musicians, writers and others, have turned a tiny corner of North Franklin into a slice of Brooklyn or East Atlanta. Choi opened Café Hey in 2006 in a vacant storefront of the building that houses his family’s Oceanic Supermarket, the only grocery store in the downtown core. Choi describes Café Hey as a “lonely outpost” and takes pride in making the most out of a relatively small space. Choi hopes that his decision to open the

The Kress Department Store opened on Franklin Street in 1929. nOVeMBer/DeCeMBer 2010


High-Speed bullet trains like this one could connect Tampa with Orlando by 2015.

café in an area better known for rampant homelessness will create a domino effect of "enlightened landlordism." "If someone owns a building around here," he says, "they’ve probably had it for a long time and their expenses are probably low. They have the option to do something really interesting with it." Carl Johnson and Alison Swann-Ingram were searching for "the cool factor" when they stumbled upon North Franklin Street. The pair opened Franklin Street Fine Woodwork, which specializes in custom-made wood furniture, at 1609 North Franklin, a block away from Café Hey. They restored the early 1920s blond-brick building last year, taking advantage of historic preservation tax credits. It’s tough to see through the haphazard alterations and peeling paint jobs, but the area bounded by Palm Avenue on the north and the interstate on the south is home to 14 historic structures built between 1915 and 1946. Next door to Johnson’s woodworking shop, the Rialto Theatre, built in 1924, featured both live theatre and films. It remained a movie house until 1959. Further up the street, at 7th Avenue and Franklin, sits the city of Tampa’s first Carnegie Free Library, opened in 1917. Stephanie Ferrell, who worked to broker the real estate deal for Johnson and Swann-Ingram, has just succeeded in placing the Upper North Franklin District on the National Register of Historic Places. More than anything else, says the city’s preservation manager, Dennis Fernandez, "It sends a message to local government: 'Hey, pay attention to this place, it has value.'"

Tampa’s New Doorstep


hile local small businesses may spark the domino effect that Cheong Choi hopes for, significantly more drastic change may return Franklin Street to its status as Tampa’s street of firsts. "High-speed rail will fundamentally rearrange the playing cards


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in downtown Tampa," says Ed Turanchik, a long-time transit advocate and potential 2011 mayoral candidate. After lunch at Café Hey, Turanchik and I drive around in a wide circle starting south on Franklin, east on Fortune Street, north on Morgan and west on Harrison Street. Turanchik points his arms out the windows, outlining the rough boundaries of a proposed high-speed rail terminal that will span five city blocks. “It’ll be like parking a Tampa International Airport terminal on the north end of downtown,” says Turanchik. Once completed, it will be the first exclusively high-speed rail line in the Western hemisphere. More than any other previous public works project, highspeed rail would likely incentivize in-town living, says Turanchik. "Transportation sparks redevelopment more so than cultural arts," he said. Over the last ten years, people have indeed returned to live in downtown Tampa. Excluding Channelside and Harbour Island, the Hillsborough County Planning Commission estimates there are 2,080 people living in the downtown core compared to just 703 in 2000, a 195 percent increase. Though the actual numbers are small, they do indicate a trend. Before purchasing the building and opening Franklin Street Fine Woodwork, co-owner and Tampa native Carl Johnson stood on the sidewalk and looked across the street at Café Hey and across Tampa Street to the recently opened Stetson Law School. He thought about what Tampa’s Channelside District looked like before all the condos sprouted up. "This is what Channelside was supposed to be," he said, adding, "Downtown can only move one way: north." Ed Turanchik agrees. With the coming of high-speed rail, the north end of downtown and Franklin Street, he says, "will be Tampa’s doorstep." The question is what will people see when they open the door?

The Odyssey of

Carlos Carbonell By Paul Guzzo


he life of Cuban native Carlos Carbonell fell apart following Fidel Castro’s successful coup toppling Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. His home was vandalized. He and his oldest son were fired from their jobs and his youngest son was thrown off his baseball team. Some of his friends were physically assaulted, his life was under constant threat–and all of this was due to his political beliefs. In late 1960, tired of living in fear, he decided to escape the country that was oppressing him and move to a country that would accept his political beliefs; Carlos Carbonell escaped the United States and moved to the Castro-led Cuba. Yes. You read that correctly. He fled the United States for Cuba. Carlos was a founding member of Tampa’s “26th of July Movement”, Castro’s revolutionary army. The Tampa branch supported Castro throughout the Cuban Revolution and in the months following the victory, sending Castro money, food, clothing, and medical and military supplies. Some of the Batista supporters who fled Cuba following his ousting moved to Tampa and made it their mission to harass those who helped Castro, which included Carlos. The police did not protect Carlos, nor did the government. The only place he believed he would be safe was in Cuba…or so he thought. The constant counter-revolutionary attacks in Cuba put all Cubans in danger. The sounds of exploding bombs and gun shots were as common at night as dancing and smoking cigars. Then, Castro announced that Cuba would become a Communist nation, which was followed by the Cuban Missile Crisis. Life in Cuba became as dangerous if not more dangerous than life in Tampa due to the constant threat of a U.S. invasion. In late 1962, Carlos Carbonell decided it was once again time to relocate due to safety concerns. This time, he would go back to the United States, but the Cuban government would not allow him to leave. He was a former revolutionary and he held a much sought after government job. Such a man leaving Cuba would have been a shout to the world that Castro’s government was not working–so he had to sneak out of Cuba. With help from friends within the Cuban secret police, he snuck aboard a plane, hidden by the cover of the midnight sky, and a few hours later landed in Mexico, where he was granted asylum and reentry to the United States, thus ending the long and fascinating odyssey of Carlos Carbonell. This is his story.


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Carlos Carbonell nOVeMBer/DeCeMBer 2010


“All my father ever wanted was to live in a free Cuba,” said his youngest son, George. “That is why he supported Castro. He just wanted Cuba to be free.” How could supporting Castro free Cuba? “Cuba was anything but free before Castro won the revolution,” said George. “[Fulgencio] Batista was a tyrant.” Carlos Carbonell was born in Havana, Cuba on September 23, 1896. In the 1920s, he moved to Ybor City to work in the cigar factories where he met and married Isabel Toledo. The couple moved back to Cuba to start a family in the 1930s, where their three children were born–Hector, George and Daisy. Then, in the mid-1940s, they moved back to Tampa.

Cuba was a terror-filled time in Cuba. He controlled the Cuban people through fear. Freedom of the press and speech were oppressed, as Batista “dealt with” those who spoke against his government. “I had a cousin who was killed by Batista’s police for demonstrating in the street against the way he ran the government,” said George. Batista buddied up to the American mafia, allowing them to purchase controlling interest in Cuba’s luxurious hotel and casino industry. American gangsters paid Batista $250,000 under the table to buy into or open a casino, and then had to give him a percentage of the slot machines. In return, the Cuban police turned the other cheek as the gangsters peddled sex from their establishments, turning the Cuban women into prostitutes sold to tourists. Sugar was the

“All my father ever wanted was to live in a free Cuba,” said his youngest son, George. “That is why he supported Castro. He just wanted Cuba to be free.” Carlos did not lose touch with his native country, though. He followed the political situation closely through firsthand accounts from family and friends living in Cuba and through Ybor City’s La Gaceta newspaper, which was then primarily a Spanish newspaper covering news from Spain and Cuba, the crux of Ybor City’s Latin community. What he heard and read about most was the fear that Batista instilled in the residents of the island nation. Batista had been Cuban president from 1940–1944 and was running for the office again in 1952. Realizing he was going to lose the election to Roberto Agramonte, Batista, backed by the Cuban army he once led as general, staged a coup and forcefully seized the presidency. Batista’s reign as “president” of

official cash crop of Cuba, but its real moneymakers were alcohol, gambling and sex. “It was a disgusting time in Cuba’s history,” said George. “My father was very political, always paying attention to what was going on. He wanted to help his country.” On July 26, 1953, a young rebel by the name of Fidel Castro staged an unsuccessful coup in Cuba. Dozens of his revolutionaries were either killed in the coup attempt or tortured to death following their capture. Castro was captured but his life was spared. Instead, he was imprisoned.

Roberto Agramonte (center) and behind him to the left in a tie, a young Fidel Castro.


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Fulgencio Batista


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During his trial, he gave his famous speech, “History Will Absolve Me,” a call to Cubans around the world to fight to free Cuba from the iron grip of Batista. While Castro may have failed to overthrow Batista in 1953, he became a living legend among the Cuban men and women both in Cuba and abroad who wanted Batista ousted. Castro was seen as a modern day José Martí, Cuba’s most famous freedom fighter, often referred to as the “Apostle of Cuban Independence” and the “Cuban George Washington.” Marti’s powerful speeches rallied Cubans to free themselves from Spanish rule in the late 1800s. In 1955, Castro was freed from prison, fled to Mexico and began planning the Cuban Revolution. The first phase of his plan called for him to travel to the United States and set up branches of his revolutionary army–called the “26th of July Movement” in honor of those who died in the failed 1953 coup–in cities with large Cuban populations. His U.S. tour included New York City, Union City in New Jersey, Miami and Tampa. Tampa was chosen because of its large Cuban population in Ybor City and West Tampa, but also because it was a city from which Jose Marti regularly raised money to support the Cuban struggle against Spain. Carlos Carbonell was among Castro’s followers, regularly following his exploits in La Gaceta, so when he read in the newspaper that Castro would be visiting Tampa in November 1955, he wanted to meet him and help him with his quest to free Cuba. “What people need to realize is that the Castro that came to Tampa was not a Communist Castro,” explained George. “People may tell you he was, but they were misinformed.” The CIA agrees with George, as Castro’s CIA files from 1955 through 1960 state that he was NOT a Communist. The files are public record and easily accessible through the CIA’s website if you doubt the claim. Castro arrived in Tampa on November 23, 1955 and named Victoriano Manteiga, publisher of La Gaceta, president of the Tampa branch of the “26th of July Movement.” Manteiga then named Carbonell chief of publications, meaning his duty was to distribute pro-Castro literature throughout the city. “I was with my father when he first met Castro over at the La Gaceta office in Ybor City. I was 13 years old and I had heard so much about Castro that I wanted to ask him if I could go back to Mexico and help him fight,” laughed George. “Of course, when I shook his hand I was too scared to ask so I just told him it was nice to meet him.” On November 26, Castro spoke to over 300 Cubans at the CIO Labor Union, located at 1226 E. Seventh Avenue between 12th and 13th streets in Ybor City, the same building that today houses the Marti-Maceo Social Club. He spoke for 30 minutes, invoking more comparisons to Jose Marti by quoting the famous Cuban throughout his speech. He also listed Batista’s many atrocities and promised to overthrow the dictator or die trying. At the end of the meeting, a few hundred dollars was raised in support of Castro’s revolution.

Castro left Tampa the next day and Tampa’s “26th of July Movement” continued to stump throughout the city in support of the revolution, asking every Cuban to donate a portion of their weekly paycheck to the cause. The “26th of July Movement” would then send the money, along with clothes, food and medical supplies to Mexico, where Castro returned following his U.S. tour. In December 1956, Castro and a small army of men returned to Cuba, took refuge in the mountains, and began the fighting phase of the revolution. Meanwhile, the branches of the “26th of July Movement” located throughout the United States continued to send money and supplies to Cuba via Mexico. According to George, supplies were no longer limited to food, clothing and medicine–arms were added to the list. “I remember opening my father’s closet and I saw a box. When I opened it, I found two grenades,” said George. “I mean, brand spanking new grenades. I picked one up and my father walked in and yelled at me to put it down and to never mess with it again.” Tampa’s “26th of July Movement” supported the revolution for the next few years. Then, on New Year’s Day 1959, the world woke up to the news that Batista had fled Cuba. Castro’s revolution had triumphed. “There was a party held in Ybor City and West Tampa,” said George. “Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise–Tampa supported Castro at the time. Today, people like to pretend that Tampa did not support Castro. Well, Tampa did. There was a motorcade [on New Year’s Day] that went from Ybor City to West Tampa; 50–60 cars long, all waving Cuban flags and “26th of July” flags and sounding their horns as every Cuban they drove by cheered and waved. Batista was gone. Castro had won and everyone was happy.” The proof that Tampa supported Castro is not difficult to locate. Batista and his henchmen depleted the Cuban treasury, stealing hundreds of millions of dollars before fleeing Cuba, leaving the country broke. Tampa’s “26th of July Movement” collected money that they sent to Cuba to support the new government. La Gaceta published weekly lists of those who donated and how much they gave. In West Tampa and Ybor City, Tampa’s “26th of July Movement” collected thousands of dollars, which was a lot of money for blue collar immigrants to give in 1959. As a part of Tampa’s “26th of July Movement” since its inception, Carlos Carbonell was looked upon as a hero. But, in just a few months time, his world turned upside down, as he went from hero to traitor. Despite Batista’s crimes against the Cuban people, the U.S. government supported him because he sold the U.S. land in Cuba at reduced prices and allowed U.S. businesses to gain monopolies in the sugar industry and in utility companies, lining the pockets of these U.S. businesses, who in return lined the pockets of Batista. When Castro won the revolution, he was a wild card, not a leader who would allow the U.S. to control Cuban interests. Instead, he wanted to free Cuba from what he deemed to be the United States’ financial control. nOVeMBer/DeCeMBer 2010


When the revolutionary government came to power, it confiscated properties owned by Batista’s collaborators and U.S. citizens and businesses in the name of his Agrarian Reform Program. This program sought to put land back in the hands of the Cuban peasants rather than allowing the U.S. to own all the land–land Castro claimed they purchased at a cheap price from a crooked leader. In retaliation, a few weeks before the end of 1959, U.S. military airplanes dropped incendiary devices to burn the sugar fields, thus reducing the harvest of Cuba’s prized crop. In early 1960, Vice-President Richard Nixon threatened to punish Castro for taking U.S. property in Cuba. These threats including reducing the amount of sugar the U.S. purchased from Cuba, knowing such a move would cripple the Cuban economy. In response, Castro announced a trade agreement with the Soviet Union. “[Castro] had to side with the Russians to survive,” explained George. “They had money, Cuba had none, and the U.S. was not helping him.” Once Castro made the trade agreement with the

government by questioning those who supported it. According to Carlos’ FBI file, he was fired from the bakery at which he worked–None Such Bakery–because the owners claimed their customers threatened to cease frequenting their establishment if they did not fire the “Communist” Carlos. To survive, Carlos sold La Bohemia–an official Cuban government publication–around Ybor City and West Tampa. He received the magazine once a week from Cuba, paid the freight on the magazine and then sold it to newsstands for 27 cents a copy and in turn it was sold for 38 cents. According to Carlos’ FBI file, he told the FBI that he was finding it difficult to make ends meet. The eldest Carbonell son, Hector, was fired from his job at the post office because the government claimed he was Communist. And George was kicked off his West Tampa All-Star Baseball Team just prior to the team leaving to compete in the national all star tournament in California for wearing a “26th of July” hat to practice. “I was on the same team as Lou Piniella,” said George. “We won our region and we were real good. I was just a kid, maybe 12.

The Carbonells could not take the persecution any longer. Following Castro’s victory, Carlos was promised a job in Cuba if he ever wanted to return to his native country. In December 1960, he took the Cuban government up on their offer. Russians, life turned sour for Carlos Carbonell. “The trouble came from the Batista people who fled this way,” explained George Carbonell. Following Castro’s victory, as word spread that Castro was trying Batista’s henchmen in court and putting those guilty of violent crimes to death, his most ardent supporters fled Cuba for the United States, many of whom went to Tampa, where they took out their anger on those who supported Castro. The headquarters of Tampa’s “26th of July Movement” in Ybor City was vandalized–windows and furniture were smashed and important documents were stolen. Members’ cars were egged and their homes were splashed with red paint to symbolize their affinity for a “Communist” leader, claiming Castro’s deal with Russia meant he was Communist. However, it is important to note that, according to the CIA, Castro had not yet embraced Communism. “That’s just what people did when they wanted to ruin your name back then,” explained George. “They said you were Communist. My father was not a Communist. He never was.” The unluckiest of Tampa’s Castro supporters were beaten up; Batista supporters would wait until they had one or two Castro supporters greatly outnumbered then issued their beatings. The Carbonells were never physically assaulted, but their lives were shattered. Carlos was regularly bothered by the FBI on Tampa’s “26th of July Movement” activities, hoping to get an insight on Castro’s new 36

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It was heartbreaking.” George said the most humiliating moment for the family was the night someone threw an open bucket of red paint at their home. The guilty party did so while driving by, missed their home and hit their neighbor’s car. “My mother ran outside with a rag and tried all night to clean the car,” remembered George. “She apologized to the neighbor for a week straight. She was so embarrassed and felt awful. The situation only grew worse over the next few months as the isolation of Cuba became U.S. policy. On October 19, 1960, the U.S. imposed a trade embargo against Cuba; Cuba responded on October 25 by nationalizing all U.S. properties left on the island. The result was that on January 3, 1961, the U.S. officially broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba, and finally, on January 14, 1961, the “26th of July Movement” was officially dissolved in Tampa. “In a meeting that took place a few days ago, we decided to close the ‘26th of July Club’, not for the depredations of some individuals that call themselves anti-communists in order to carry out criminal acts in Tampa, but because the government of the United States has broken off its relations with Cuba,” wrote Victoriano Manteiga in the January 13, 1961 edition of La Gaceta. Carlos, though, refused to back down from his pro-Castro stand. When the FBI questioned him in front of his home in October 1961, the notes filed in his report stated that “he did not think that the present government in Cuba was communistic,

Top left: This 1961 Tampa Tribune article details “threat exchanges” between pro and anti-Castro groups including vandalism and bomb threats. Tampa police stood guard at the Cuban Consulate in downtown Tampa while patrol cars “roved the Latin Quarter streets.” Top right: Cubans in Tampa organized a local chapter of the “July 26th Movement” in Ybor City. The pro-Castro group organized meetings and raised funds for Fidel Castro’s revolution against Fulgencio Batista. In 1955, the group hosted Castro on a trip to Tampa. The revolutionary leader spoke at a union hall on 7th Avenue to a crowd of about 300 people after being turned away from both the Cuban Club and the Italian Club. Although many in Tampa viewed the 1959 uprising as a success, Fidel Castro’s rapid move leftward towards communism and the United States’ subsequent diplomatic break caused many in the community to abandon support for Castro’s government. Below right: Fidel Castro (standing to the left of the man holding a picture of José Martí) visits the home of July 26th organizers at a home in Ybor City in 1955. nOVeMBer/DeCeMBer 2010


although he stated that to him the present government in Cuba was doing the same thing in Cuba which Henry Ford had done when he started to build automobiles in Michigan. That is Ford put up the money and told the workers that if they would work they could share the profits of the business and the same thing is true in Cuba with the government putting up the money for various projects in Cuba and the poor people who never had anything under Batista were finding a better way of life. Possibly this was socialism but he could not see where it could be called communism. Cuban ties with Russia were out of economic necessity.” Carlos vocalized this opinion throughout Tampa, and the harassment continued. The Carbonells could not take the persecution any longer. Following Castro’s victory, Carlos was promised a job in Cuba if he ever wanted to return to his native country. In December 1960, he took the Cuban government up on their offer. Miami still had direct flights to Cuba, but he was afraid if he openly tried to leave the United States, the FBI would detain him and perhaps not allow him to leave. So Carlos Carbonell flew to New York and drove into Canada, where he then boarded a transport plane that was carrying eggs to Cuba. Upon arrival, the government lived up to its promise and gave him a job as a pressman for La Bohemia. A few months later, George, his brother and his mother decided to join Carlos in Cuba. Rather than sneaking out of the country, they decided to go to Cuba via Miami. Perhaps they should have snuck out, as Immigration told George that because he was leaving the U.S. for Cuba, they were permanently taking away his U.S. residency and he would never be allowed to return, even to visit family. “I wasn’t a U.S. citizen,” he explained. “My mother was born and raised in Tampa and my father was a citizen through marriage, but I was born in Cuba and never became a citizen. I was allowed to stay in the U.S. through a residency card. But they told me if I went to Cuba they would renounce my residency and never allow me back. I figured I’d be in Cuba for the rest of my life so didn’t care.” When they arrived in Cuba, they were reunited with Carlos, who was living in the Buzon Hotel in a beach community outside of Havana while waiting for the government to 38

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Top photograph: President Kennedy meets in the Oval Office with General Curtis LeMay and reconnaissance pilots who flew the Cuban missions. Third from the left is Major Richard Heyser who took the photos on which the Cuban missiles were first identified. Courtesy of CIA. Center Top: Protestors ask for peace with Cuba. Bottom Right: John & Robert Kennedy.

-supported Bay of Following the failed CIA Top Right: Fidel Castro. ned to the Soviet el Castro increasingly tur Pigs Invasion in 1961, Fid s underway on a wa rk the fall of 1962, wo By . aid y itar mil for ion Un of reaching most ballistic missiles capable series of medium-range American cities. is was eventually and Fidel Castro. The cris Left: Nikita Khrushchev siles from Cuba in agreed to remove the mis diffused when Khrushchev would not invade tes mise that the United Sta exchange for a public pro America would ich wh in l ate back-room dea the island, as well as a priv s in Turkey. also remove its own missile olutionary organJuly Movement� was the rev of th “26 e Th ht: Rig tom Bot dictatorship in that overthrew the Batista ization led by Fidel Castro 1959.

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issue him the home he was promised. They quickly learned that life in Cuba would not be much easier than it was in the U.S. The entire country was under emotional duress, explained George, as counter-revolutionary activities were the norm. George said 75 percent of Cuba was pro-Castro, but members of the other 25 percent would set off bombs in buildings. Anti-Castro CubanAmericans would also launch missions from Miami, sailing boats near the Cuban shores and firing machine guns into the cities. On one occasion, George said that a 50-caliber machine gun rattled a home so badly that pieces of the ceiling fell into a baby’s crib. Luckily, the baby was not injured, but such incidents kept the island nation on edge and on alert at all times. George, though, tried to make the best of the tense situation. “I was only 16, so I was always out trying to have fun,” explained

the guard realized it was just a teen playing around and not a counterattack. A month or two after the Carbonells joined their patriarch in Cuba, the family moved to a condo on the beach. They had a beautiful home and Carlos had a good career. Life should have been getting better; instead, it only got worse. On December 2, 1961, Castro officially announced that Cuba was adopting the Communist form of government. “My father always believed that Castro was pushed into Communism by the U.S. government,” said Carbonell. “That doesn’t mean he agreed with Communism. No, my father did not like Communism and it put him in a tough spot. My father left for Cuba expecting to live similarly as he did in the United States. He expected to be able to live where he wanted to live, shop where he wanted

“July 26th Movement” Flag

George, “which often got me into trouble.” For instance, he and his friends threw a smoke bomb into a movie theatre as a practical joke, not realizing the implications of what they were doing. The armed guards in that neighborhood mistook it for an act of sabotage by anti-Castro forces, chased the boys down and arrested them. When the police realized it was just a case of boys being boys, they were released, but not before being cautioned to temper their rambunctious ways. George did not listen. A short while later, he and his friends were again horsing around, this time at night, running through the streets. George turned a corner on a full sprint and almost ran into an armed guard, who out of instinct cocked his machine gun and took aim. Luckily for George, 40

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to shop, and eat what he wanted to eat. But then Cuba turned Communist and that all changed. The government controlled everything. At that point, a lot of people wanted to get out, my family included.” George said he regularly met groups of men and women planning to escape Cuba via boat and on more than one occasion he was offered a spot. He refused because he did not want to leave his parents behind and because he knew if they were caught they would be either jailed or shot. Come October 1962, George began to wish he had taken the opportunity to flee. “The Cuban Missile Crisis arrived,” he said. George said that the Cuban people were sure that the

United States would attack, so they mobilized the entire country. landed in Miami. Despite the threats to never allow him back in the Every adult male was provided a gun and given a section of Cuba to country, George was indeed welcomed back, but not before being protect. Carlos, who was still at La Bohemia, was told to protect the questioned three hours a day for two days by the FBI on everything he area around the newspaper’s offices. had seen in Cuba. When the FBI realized he did not have any impor“All the beaches were filled with anti-aircraft stuff and men with tant military information to share, they allowed him, his brother and machine guns,” he said. “I remember hearing someone firing into the his mother to return to Tampa to start their lives over. air and a friend and me ducked and ran. It was a scary moment. I don’t Six months later, George was drafted into the military for a know what they were shooting at, but at that moment I thought the two-year term. During his time in the military–the exact month and attack had begun. year escapes George–his father escaped “Then around 3 a.m. one day our from Cuba and returned to the U.S. He home was rumbling with the sound of said his father had friends in the Cuban tanks being brought through a secret police who felt bad for him; he tunneled road leading to the beach. was separated from his family and not And I knew a guy who was a bus drivallowed to ever see them again. Carlos’ er and he told me to come with him to friends knew of a flight leaving for take a trip to see what was going on. Mexico late one night and told Carlos People were everywhere with backto be at the terminal. His friends then packs and military uniforms, mobilizled him onto the plane, using their creing. It was tense.” dentials to convince the airline that Of course, the crisis passed and Carlos was to be given a seat because he cooler heads prevailed. The Russians had important “press business” to tend agreed to remove the missiles and the to in Mexico. When Carlos arrived in U.S. called off their warships. “The Mexico, he went right to the U.S. Cuban people felt betrayed by the Embassy, asked for asylum and was Russians,” said George, continuing, allowed to return to Tampa. This blurry photo of Carlos Carbonell (standing) is one of only two “The Cubans were angry [at the George said that his father was remaining photos owned by his family. Americans].” He explained that a questioned off and on by the FBI over common sentiment was that the U.S. government supported Batista, the next few years, but the Cubans who once bullied the family left a tyrant, for years, so how dare they tell the Cuban people who should them alone. be their leader. Over the next few decades, according to George, Carlos rarely “The Cubans were ready to fight,” said George. “If the invasion spoke of the Cuban Revolution or his work with the “26th of July would have come, they would not have laid down their weapons or Movement.” In 1992, Carlos passed away. His obituary only listing supported the U.S. They were ready to defend their country.” him as a cigar maker and a native of Cuba. Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Carbonells decided George said his father was always a quiet man, never the type to enough was enough. Not only did they not agree with Communism, wear his emotions on his sleeve, but he believes his father remained a but the threat of war was too great. This was not the type of country tortured soul for the remainder of his life. While his father in which they wanted to live. vehemently stated that he had no regrets supporting Castro during They were returning to the United States. His mother did not the Cuban Revolution, George said his father must have been bothwant to do it on a rinky-dink boat under the veil of darkness, though. ered by the direction Cuba took. George said that his father did not That was too risky. Instead, they asked the Cuban government for work to turn Cuba into a Communist nation. He only wanted it to be permission to return to the United States. George, his brother and his free. mother were granted the opportunity. Carlos was not. It would have “At the end of the day, all my father ever wanted was a free been an embarrassment to the Cuban government for a revolutionary Cuba,” said George. “That’s it. And he never got it.” and employee of its official newspaper to leave the country. In late 1962, a day before George and his mother were scheduled to leave Cuba, the G2–Cuba’s political police–came to the Carbonells’ Paul Guzzo has been a journalist in Tampa for the past 10 years. He has also written and produced a number home and took inventory of what they owned. They were told what of award-winning independent films, including “Charlie they could take with them to the United States–a few pairs of Wall: The Documentary”. Paul is also the Senior writclothes–and they confiscated the rest of their belongings, including ter of Cigar City Magazine. Paul can be reached at George’s gold chain and his mother’s jewelry. The next day, they boarded a plane and an hour later they nOVeMBer/DeCeMBer 2010



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To be continued in the next issue of Cigar City Magazine... nOVeMBer/DeCeMBer 2010


CCM: You don’t look like the stereotypical cigar manufacturer. How were you received when you first launched your brand? SL: i think having the Olivas as my support group–they had my back–added legitimacy to my brand right off the bat. i was definitely concerned with having credibility in the industry. Some of my contemporaries have been making cigars for 30 years and have families that have been in the business for over a century. Suddenly, there i was– an unknown 32-year-old with a different style and look–launching a cigar brand out of basically nowhere. So i was a bit concerned, but the Olivas backed me so it helped me gain acceptance right away.

Sam Leccia

Sam Leccia is the Kid rock of the cigar industry, standing out at every event he attends while promoting his nub Cigar. Shunning the typical cigar manufacturer attire of a conservative guayabera, a fedora covering well cropped hair, and khaki pants, the 35-year-old Leccia is often seen in dusty jeans, dark sunglasses, a t-shirt and vest, with a fedora barely covering his long locks, his face showing off a five o’clock shadow by 10 a.m. He is often regularly flanked by gorgeous women, dozens of his cigar fans and even a rock band. His look is not the only thing that makes him–and his nub Cigars–an original. the essence of his cigar is far different than any other cigar currently on the market. nubs are short and stout, packed with only the finest tobacco so every puff of a nub is a puff of the finest nub has to offer, which differs from other brands that only put their finest tobacco in the center and force the smoker to puff for a third of the cigar before they hit the cigar’s “sweet spot.” He wanted to create a cigar that got right to the nitty-gritty and stayed there until the very end. nothing is traditional about Sam Leccia, which is a major reason nub has skyrocketed in popularity since being created three years ago. a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native, Leccia spent seven years in the liquor industry as a partner in an award-winning vodka before he decided to give the tobacco industry a try. He pitched his idea of the nub to the Oliva Cigar family and they loved it. they helped him to develop his blend and three years later the nub is one of the fastest rising cigar brands on the market. Cigar City Magazine recently sat down with Sam Leccia to find out more about his famous cigar. CCM: Where did the Nub name come from? SL: Well, the cigar is short and fat, so there is your first reason. But also, when you are smoking cigars down to the very end, cigar lovers say that you “nub it,” so it is a good connotation to have because it shows it is a cigar you enjoy. But also, i have been in marketing for a while and i know that when you come up with a word for a brand you may want to check all the definitions of it. and when i looked up “nub”, i learned that it means it is the core, the essence, the best part, and that really solidified what the nub Cigar is all about. the nub is the best part. 48

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CCM: Why did you want to get into cigars? SL: : i don’t know actually [laughs]. i have always smoked cigars, but, honestly, it was never a dream of mine as a child to launch a cigar brand. i was in the liquor industry for seven years and the two have a similar lifestyle. i just woke up one day and decided i wanted to venture out into something new, and decided to give cigars a try. Honestly, that was it. i guess i’m the type of person who likes to find new ways to test myself and going into the cigar industry was that way. Did i ever think it would be this successful? yes and no. i knew if worked hard at it i could do it, but it is still a surprise when you succeed at something that was so new to you. CCM: Your cigar is not a typical cigar brand. It has gained a strong cult following unlike any cigar brand ever has. Why? SL: : i guess because we are different in terms of blend and shape and size. But you are right. there is a cult following. it has been overwhelming. there are some rabid nub fans who decorate their car like the nub and take photos of themselves around the world smoking nub and then send the photos to our website. i think some of our loyal fans promote the cigars as well as i do. i have some amazing ambassadors out there that other brands don’t have. and i guess it is because nub is different. i am not the typical cigar guy so i think that speaks to the younger generation of cigar smokers. i do things differently. i don’t know how to do things the typical way because i’m not part of a six generation cigar family and because i didn’t grow up on a tobacco farm. i didn’t have a business model that has been in my family for generations to follow, so i had to come up with my own model. i’m just some dude from Pittsburgh who has fun and i think people dig my image. it is more of what i am than what i am not. i am not trying to portray something. i am just being me and it seems to have caught on. CCM: What types of things have you done to promote Nub that may be considered different? SL: Well, i drove a Mini-Cooper all decked out in nub icons across the country the first year that promoted nub and then gave the car away. i’ve had rock bands at my events that draw attention from the younger crowd. i want to enjoy myself and have everyone around me have fun. that is who i am and what i do. So when i go to these events i just bring it; i bring excitement. and we were selling 60–70 boxes at these events during our first year, which is not normal. at most events, a new brand sells maybe 15–20 boxes. CCM: What do you love about the cigar industry? SL: Without a doubt, the people. the fans, the haters, the manufacturers, the wannabes. i love it all. i just love people.

Snapper Alicante This incredibly delicious recipe was created many years ago by Richard Gonzmart’s grandfather, Casimiro Hernandez, Jr. It features the “King of Gulf Fish”, snapper, baked in a casserole with sweet Spanish onions, green peppers, a rich gravy, olive oil, fresh garlic, sauterne wine and topped with sliced roasted almonds. Served with yellow rice and garnished with fried eggplant and shrimp. "If you enjoy fresh fish and would like to sample authentic Spanish flavor we offer our highest recommendation."

Ingredients 2 to 3 large Spanish onions, sliced into rings

1/2 cup Spanish olive oil

3/4 cup brown beef stock gravy

2 pounds snapper fillets

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup white Spanish wine

4 green peppers, sliced into rings

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced

Preparation Place onion rings in bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2-inch casserole; place fish on top of onions. Place pepper rings on top of fish. In a bowl mix together remaining ingredients; pour over casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes. Serves 4. Garnish (optional) 1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds 8 large shrimp, cooked and cleaned

9 pieces eggplant, breaded and fried Fresh parsley sprigs

Share the Columbia Seasoning secret in your own kitchen. Use on meat, poultry, seafood and vegetables. For more information or to purchase our seasoning visit us at


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In August 2010, we ventured once again beyond the Cigar City to New Orleans for the IPCPR’s 78th Annual Convention and International Trade Show. This members-only event features the biggest names in the business, from our home town favorites Fuente and Cuesta Rey to industry giants like Altadis, CAO, and General Cigar. Once inside the New Orleans Convention Center, we were in awe of the lavish displays the companies used to promote their products. Some were elegant smoking lounges, others were walk-in cigar factories. We had fun mingling with cigar reps and company owners before hitting the town for a night in the French Quarter. To see more pictures from this event go to and click on our Facebook page.


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The Tampa Cigar Bash was a huge hit among the Tampa Bay area’s cigar aficionados. The beautiful Cuban Club provided an ideal setting for the event, which took place on October 2, 2010 under sunny skies in historic Ybor City. Guests filled their bags with over 40 cigars from 35 top brands such as 601 Cigars, Alec Bradley, Altadis, Arturo Fuente, Ashton, Augusto Reyes, Berger Argenti, Camacho, CAO, Casa Gomez, Don Pepin, Drew Estate, Esteban Carrras, General Cigars, Gurkha, Jamason Cigars, JC Newman Cigars, Joya De Nicaragua, Kristoff, La Tradicion Cubana, Mederos Cigars, Miami Cigars, Oliva Cigars, Padron, Perdomo, Pinar Del Rio, Pride Cigars, Puros Indios, Rocky Patel, Sabor Cubana, SAG Imports (Casa Magna), Tatuaje, Torano, WB Cigars and Xika. VIPs were also treated to complimentary glasses of Stella Artois courtesy of our main sponsor, Pepin Distributing Company, while luxuriating in the upstairs lounge the club’s theatre lobby. At the outside tents, sponsors Oliva Tobacco Company, WestSide Barbershop, Cigar Rights of America (CRA), Age-Less Medicine, Real Men Smoke Cigars, Hilton Garden Inn Tampa Ybor Historic District, and PRP International Wines ringed a casual seating area with a prime view of the outdoor stage featuring The Black Honkeys’ soulful set, while the Roberto DeBourg Duo performed inside the historic Cantina of the Cuban Club. There was also a special appearance by actor Joe Gannascoli, Vito from The Sopranos, and owner of Cugine Cigars. The Winghouse and Gaspar’s Grotto provided food, and of course, our own Cigar City Girls were there distributing magazines and selling T-shirts to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. A heartfelt thanks to our local cigar family representatives, Trey Oliva, Carlos Fuente, Sr., Cynthia Fuente, and Eric and Bobby Newman for making a special appearance at the bash and of course an extended thank you to all the representatives of the other cigar companies who made a special trip to the Cigar City! Last but not least, a very special thanks to all the cigar aficionados who dished out the big bucks to attend this event. We are proud to have helped raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project, bring attention to the beautiful Cuban Club, and privileged to have had the event in the Cigar City! 58

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To s e e m o r e p i c t u r e s o f t h e Ta m p a C i g a r B a s

h , v i s i t w w w. C i g a r C i t y M a g a z i n e . c o m a n d c l i c k o n o u r F a c e b o o k p a g e !



Did you know? by Dan Perez

Mama will be on vacation and will be back next year with more of her insulting humor! In the meantime, we leave you for this year with some of Mama’s best! Dear Mama, i offered to take my elderly neighbor around town to run a few errands, but i have no idea where she wants me to take her. i haven't lived in tampa very long, but i thought i knew my way around. Can you tell me where Guolmar, Besbai, and El Pobli are? -Need a New Map Dear Map, you don't need a new map, you need a lesson in Spanglish. Guolmar is Wal-Mart, Besbai is Best Buy, and El Pobli is Publix. Just in case you offer to help her on a regular basis, Quemar is Kmart, Guindici is Winn-Dixie, and Wagrin is Walgreen's. -Mama Dear Mama, My mother keeps telling me that she's going to hit me with her chancleta. What is a chancleta? -Julio Dear Julio, What kind of "latino" are you! A chancleta is a flip-flop style shoe that goes "clakita clakita" when you walk. Although considered a multifunctional item, mamas mostly use them to throw at their kids to get their attention when they are misbehaving. The main reason the shoe is thrown is because your mama can't sneak up on you to whack you on the head with it because of the "clakita clakita" sound. Chancletas can also be used to throw at the family pet when they are doing something wrong, and for killing roaches and flies. -Mama Dear Mama, What kind of summer camps did kids from ybor and West tampa attend in the olden days? -Mary Dear Mary,

you gotta be kidding...we didn't have summer camps! For fun, when we heard the mosquito truck coming, we would run behind the truck as it sprayed the mosquito killer mist. We would steal avocados and mangos from our neighbors' trees, and sometimes go swimming at Cuscaden Park. On Saturdays, you would get dropped off at the movie theater, and given 50 cents. the 50 cents would cover the cost to get in, popcorn, coke, and a pickle...and you could stay all day. -Mama Visit Mama now on Facebook. Do a search for Mama Knows. 62

Cigar City Magazine

Fernando Figueredo was a hero of Cuba's Ten Years' War, a Florida State Representative and leader of the Cuban Revolutionary Party before becoming the first mayor of West Tampa in 1895. He is honored on 3 postage stamps. In 1895, the order to start the revolution against Spain in Cuba was hidden in a cigar made in West Tampa, carried on the H.B. Plant steamer Mascotte to Key West, and smuggled into Cuba and the leaders of the revolution by the hands and mouth of no less than 3 different men. The O'Halloran Brothers cigar factory sat in a square right in the middle of present-day Howard Avenue between Main St. and Union St. in 1895. Be sure to read the entire story about Fernando Figueredo, The First Mayor of West Tampa in the January-Febauray 2011 issue of Cigar City Magazine.

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