Tuesday, October 16, 2018
News Roundup

Ybor's culture, cigars and Cubans a big hit with visiting football fans

YBOR CITY — It was a total reversal of that stereotypical sitcom scene of husbands huddled in a shoe store corner holding purses as their wives shop.

On Sunday afternoon, Taylor Graham and her adult daughters Madison and Paige Graham — all of South Carolina and all Clemson fans — sat at a corner table in Ybor City's Tabanero Cigars as their spouses shopped for stogies.

"They wanted to watch football and buy cigars in Tampa since this is where to get them," Paige Graham said. "Hopefully the cigars will be celebratory."

Who emerges victorious from the College Football Playoff National Championship game between Clemson and Alabama will be determined tonight at Raymond James Stadium, but a winner over the weekend was Ybor City's culture known for hand-rolled cigar shops and the invention of the Cuban sandwich.

Gaspar's Grotto chef Mark Hook had only a moment during the lunchtime rush to detail how many Cuban sandwiches his restaurant sold over the weekend.

"We stopped counting individually and now say how many tubs they could fill," he said of Cubans, the official sandwich of the city of Tampa. When pressed for a number of tubs, with a laugh he replied, "A whole lot."

At Carmine's, hostess Kelsey Phillips gave a more exact number — 180 Cuban sandwiches were sold during lunchtime on Sunday alone.

Some football fans knew prior to coming to Tampa what Ybor City's signature product and sandwich were. Others learned upon arrival, said Joyce Lucas, a historian at the Ybor City Visitor Information Center.

"Then they all want to know where to get them," she said.

The Tampa Bay Times stopped into seven shops in Ybor that sell locally made cigars. Some roll them fresh throughout the day.

Employees at each said business was up this weekend thanks to the influx of tourists.

When Clemson secured its spot in the championship game, Ryan Sousa of South Carolina said friends began sending him cigar orders.

"You can't get hand-rolled cigars in South Carolina," said Sousa as he made a purchase at Long Ash Cigars. "So you can't leave Tampa without a lot."

Through the mid-1900s, Tampa was known as the cigar capital of the world. While on a lesser scale, Ybor remains a known epicenter for fine hand-rolled cigars, as proven by this weekend, said Yanko Maceda, owner of Tabanero Cigars.

"Ybor is one of the few places you'll find this many boutique shops hand-rolling cigars," he said. "We are unique."

Manager Michelle Loucks of Long Ash Cigars, which rolled football-shaped cigars for the occasion, was disappointed the city didn't consider pushing Ybor City as a locale for events. Business was up, she said, but not as much as she had hoped.

"Everything is at the Riverwalk in downtown to promote that, and I feel like Ybor was ignored," Loucks said. "Ybor is Tampa's culture. We are important."

Contact Paul Guzzo at [email protected] or (813) 226-3394. Follow @PGuzzoTimes.

   
Comments
News at noon: Counties hit by Hurricane Michael request voting changes; Pasco Sheriff releases body-cam video of fiery crash

News at noon: Counties hit by Hurricane Michael request voting changes; Pasco Sheriff releases body-cam video of fiery crash

Top 5 stories at noon
Updated: 0 minutes ago
Pasco Sheriff releases body-cam video of fiery crash involving suspected kidnapper

Pasco Sheriff releases body-cam video of fiery crash involving suspected kidnapper

Pasco County officials have released details and a dramatic video of a fiery weekend crash that killed a man suspected of kidnapping his longtime girlfriend. The crash, which Sheriff Chris Nocco called the result of an "unfortunate cycle of domestic...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Cross-Bay Ferry to dock at Florida Aquarium this winter

Cross-Bay Ferry to dock at Florida Aquarium this winter

TAMPA — The Cross-Bay Ferry is coming back with a few changes this winter.For starters, the ferry will dock behind the Florida Aquarium because of construction at the Tampa Convention Center. Port Tampa Bay approved the berth on Tuesday morning and a...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Steve Martin's 'The Underpants' opens at Stage West

Steve Martin's 'The Underpants' opens at Stage West

Theater roundup for the North Suncoast
Updated: 28 minutes ago
Five Tampa Bay area men indicted in what prosecutors describe as a billion-dollar health care scheme

Five Tampa Bay area men indicted in what prosecutors describe as a billion-dollar health care scheme

Five local men are wrapped up in what federal prosecutors are calling a billion-dollar telemedicine rip off.Starting in 2015, the men and their pharmacy companies set up an elaborate scheme that fraudulently solicited insurance coverage information a...
Updated: 30 minutes ago
From the food editor: A carrot coconut soup from Chrissy Teigen’s second ‘Cravings’ cookbook

From the food editor: A carrot coconut soup from Chrissy Teigen’s second ‘Cravings’ cookbook

This bright, vegetable soup was inspired by a recent farm meal.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Florida State football midseason review: Seminoles’ bowl streak in jeopardy

Florida State football midseason review: Seminoles’ bowl streak in jeopardy

Few teams in the country have been as disappointing as Florida State.The Seminoles started the year in the top 20, with a loaded running backs corps and a new coach (Willie Taggart) known for offensive fireworks.Midway through the Year 1 of the Tagga...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Spring Hill man, 22, killed in apparent home invasion

Spring Hill man, 22, killed in apparent home invasion

A Spring Hill man was killed early Tuesday morning in an apparent home invasion. Deputies say the incident does not appear to be random and may be drug related.
Updated: 1 hour ago

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Oct. 19

What are your neighbors thinking about?
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bodies of man, woman found in St. Peterburg alley

Bodies of man, woman found in St. Peterburg alley

Police on Tuesday morning were at the scene of two bodies found in an alley near 16th St S and 14th Ave S.
Updated: 1 hour ago