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April
2003

TRENDS AND TRENDSETTERS IN SPECIALTY TOBACCO RETAILING
J.C. Newman Renews Cuesta-Rey Cigar Bar Sponsorship
Tampa, FL - J.C. Newman Cigar Company has renewed its sponsorship of the Cuesta-Rey Cigar Bar with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for another five years. The agreement followed the signing of former New York Yankees manager Lou Pinella as the new manager of the Devil Rays.

"The decision to renew our sponsorship of the Cuesta-Rey Cigar Bar was drawing near and it wasn't an easy one," said Eric Newman, president of J.C. Newman Cigar Co. The Devil Rays have had five consecutive losing seasons. "But once we heard Lou Pinella was coming to Tampa, we knew it would be a great fit for the Devil Rays and for the Cuesta-Rey Cigar Bar," added Newman, whose ties with Pinella extend beyond baseball.

A big cigar fan, Pinella's family roots are based in the cigar industry and Cuesta Rey cigars in particular. In 1920, Pinella's grandfather immigrated from Spain to Tampa to become the Cuesta-Rey Tobacco buyer. In the 1950s and 60s, Pinella's father was the main cigar distributor in Ybor City and West Tampa, visiting many of the region's numerous cigar factories, including J.C. Newman, purchasing cigars, and distributing them throughout the Tampa area. Finally, Pinella's two uncles also worked at J.C. Newman Company as corporate accountants for over twenty years. Pinella once said he was glad that Tropicana Field had a cigar bar: If he were ever kicked out of a game for arguing with the umpire, he would head to the Cuesta-Rey and smoke a fine cigar.

The lounge features a large screen TV, bar, and well-stocked humidor displays.


RETAIL RADAR

  • An 8,000 sq.-ft section of one of Orlando's oldest historic downtown buildings, the McEwan Hospital, is being gutted for an exclusive triple-tiered private club. The International Supper Club will feature a walk-in cigar humidor, expansive wine cellar, and a sophisticated decor featuring fine paneling and leather. The club, which will charge its planned 350 members $5,000 annual membership fees, will be exempt from Florida's upcoming smoking ban. A show kitchen will host a different visiting chef each week and serve as the basis of a planned syndicated television show. Developers hope to take the club's concept to other major cities.

  • San Francisco chef Curtis Post closed his 10-year-old Occidental Grill restaurant in March due to sagging sales and a poor business climate, but patrons continue to love cigars at his nearby Occidental Cigar Bar, so much so, in fact, that Post is currently negotiating to "expand the concept" to an additional location.

  • BITS & PIECES

  • Corona Cigar Company of Orlando was selected as the grand prize winner by C.A.O. International in its recent National D.R.E.A.M.S. Sweepstakes. The prize is a luxury round-trip-for-two voyage to England worth over $40,000. "The contest was to send a photo of a unique, in-store display showing [C.A.O.'s] cigars," says Corona Cigar's c.e.o. Jeff Borysiewicz. "I went a step further and shot a video." Borysiewicz's winning display beat out approximately 250 entries, according to C.A.O.'s marketing v.p. Jon Huber. "The video from Corona Cigar Company was clearly superior," says Huber. "Jeff described every single cigar [over 60] that we have made the last five years. His knowledge of cigars is amazing." The trip starts with a first class flight to New York City on May 26 to catch one of the Concorde's last flights to London, three nights in a luxury hotel, and a week-long return to New York on the Queen Elizabeth II Ocean Liner.

  • The M&M Cigar Store, a landmark saloon in the former copper mining town of Butte, Mont. for miners, gamblers, and cowboys, closed its doors after 113 years of continuous, 24-hour operation following a bankruptcy filing. It was once described by beat poet Jack Kerouac as "the ideal bar."

  • SMOKESHOP - April, 2003