Tuesday, June 19, 2018
News Roundup

The last cigar factory in Tampa keeps rolling

YBOR CITY -- History lives here, inside the J.C. Newman Cigar Co.

Machines manufactured in the 1930s are still used to pack and roll the cigars, and the sights and smells are throwbacks. Tobacco bits litter the weathered wooden floor, and a pungent odor punctuates the air as workers remove leaves from burlap bags.

Tampa was once home to 150 cigar factories, which churned out millions of cigars in the early part of the 20th century and shipped them worldwide.

J.C. Newman, with its 135 employees, is the sole survivor, even though it’s not an Ybor original.

The company moved from Cleveland in 1954 because founder Julius Caesar Newman was eager to be closer to Cuba and its supply of tobacco. Newman took over the E. Regensburg and Sons Cigar Factory at 2701 N 16th St.

Newman’s grandson Eric, who is 69, now runs the company.

He has weathered changes in attitudes and regulations.

Starting in August, the FDA may require more detailed labeling about ingredients and manufacturing processes, a costly step for a business working with small margins.

"These regulations could put us out of business," Newman said, though he’s hoping a business-friendly Trump administration will make a difference. "What we don’t need at this point of our history is more government regulation."

Restrictions on lighting up in most public places have already hurt business, he said, as has shifting feelings toward smoking.

But he and his brother Bobby, who is executive vice president, hope to pass the business on to the next generation. He can’t imagine the city without a cigar factory.

"Cigars are to Tampa what automobiles are to Detroit, what wine is to Napa Valley, what Mickey Mouse is to Orlando," he said.

His sales pitch these days revolves around relaxation and ritual.

Newman partakes a few times a month.

"To smoke a cigar, you have to have the time and be in the right mindset," he said. "Everything else is shut out of your mind."

J.C. Newman cranks out about 60,000 "Factory Throwout" cigars a day on those old machines. Modern adjustments to the factory include halogen lights and a mister system to keep the humidity between 60 and 70 percent.

The company is reviving the tradition of hand-rolled cigars, with two craftsmen producing a new line called "The American." A box of 10 will go for about $180 at high-end tobacco lounges and stores later this year.

The Newman building now sits amid the creep of gentrification and craft breweries, and cars speed by on Interstate 4, muffling the sound from its iconic clock tower.

During a recent interview, Eric Newman looked up as the bell chimed on the hour. Once, you could hear it all over Ybor City, and everyone knew where the noise was coming from.

"Listen, El Reloj is speaking to us," he said. "This is the iconic sound, the heartbeat and soul of Ybor City."

 
Comments
New Yorker magazine apologizes to combat-wounded Pasco veteran over staffer’s Tweet

New Yorker magazine apologizes to combat-wounded Pasco veteran over staffer’s Tweet

The New Yorker magazine has apologized to a combat-wounded Pasco County veteran about a tweet posted by one of its staffers.Over the weekend, New Yorker staffer Talia Lavin wrote in a tweet that a tattoo on the left elbow of Justin Gaertner looked li...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Top 5 at noon: Spectrum’s new service to increase TV costs; guide to St. Pete Pride 2018; and more

Top 5 at noon: Spectrum’s new service to increase TV costs; guide to St. Pete Pride 2018; and more

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com.SPECTRUM’S NEW SERVICE WILL EVENTUALLY INCREASE THE COST FOR TVSpectrum’s new all-digital service is set to bring more high definition, faster internet speeds and expanded on-demand offerings ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lakeland father, girlfriend face charges in death of 6-year-old girl

Lakeland father, girlfriend face charges in death of 6-year-old girl

A Lakeland man and his girlfriend face charges of first-degree murder and aggravated manslaughter in the death of his 6-year-old daughter last week.Larry Lewis Golden Jr., 26, Breonna B. Wren, 21, were arrested Friday and are being held without bail ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Salary-cap increase makes for ‘more fun’ NHL offseason

Salary-cap increase makes for ‘more fun’ NHL offseason

Thanks, Vegas. That’s what NHL general managers are saying this offseason after the Stanley Cup Final run of the expansion Golden Knights contributed to what’s expected to be a healthy increase for the salary cap. With elite center John Tavares, No. ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Drugs at your doorstep: CVS will deliver prescriptions to your home

Drugs at your doorstep: CVS will deliver prescriptions to your home

CVS Health will make prescription deliveries nationwide to accommodate the heightened expectations of convenience from consumers. The nation’s second-largest drugstore chain says it also will make home deliveries of other items, like allergy medicine...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tech Data sending a record 700 employees to march in Pride Parade

Tech Data sending a record 700 employees to march in Pride Parade

Among the marching bands and twirlers at Saturday’s St. Pete Pride Parade, one major sponsor, Tech Data, is sending by far a record number of employees — more than 700 at last count — to march in Florida’s largest gay pride parade.The parade, which d...
Updated: 2 hours ago
They usually avoid controversy, but every living first lady has condemned border separations

They usually avoid controversy, but every living first lady has condemned border separations

Every living first lady - including Melania Trump - has condemned the policy of separating immigrant families caught illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. It is a rare moment of bipartisan unity from the women who make up the small sorority of p...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa Bay Times’ all-Tampa Bay boys soccer players of the year

Tampa Bay Times’ all-Tampa Bay boys soccer players of the year

Hillsborough player of the year: F Eric Ugarte, Sr., Plant CityThe numbers: Ugarte scored 21 goals and added 11 assists to lead the Raiders to their first state title in soccer. He scored 71 goals in his career.Something about Eric: The skilled ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays continue to struggle in close games

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays continue to struggle in close games

The Rays blow a four-run lead in Houston and lose on a walkoff hit to the Astros in the opener of their three-game series. It's the 19th one-run loss for the Rays this season as they continue to struggle in close games. Fortunately, reinforcements ar...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa Bay Times’ all-Tampa Bay girls soccer players of the year

Tampa Bay Times’ all-Tampa Bay girls soccer players of the year

Pinellas Player of the Year: MF Mary Raymond, Jr., Palm Harbor UniversityThe numbers: Raymond scored 13 goals and added seven assists. She spent the first part of the season as the central defender.Something about Mary: Raymond is the type of pl...
Updated: 3 hours ago