Arnold Serafin says he's re-creating his Cuban
heritage of fashioning fine hand-rolled cigars. He is the owner of Serafin de Cuba Cigars, which opened Oct. 1.
The shop carries custom blended, hand-rolled
cigars bearing the Serafin de Cuba brand as well as other specialty and boutique brands. He says they are one of the few retailers
that carry the "El Tiante" cigar line started by legendary Major League baseball pitcher Luis Tiant.
Depending on the day, one may get to watch
master blender and roller Luis Gonzalez creating Serafin specialties. Originally from Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, Gonzalez learned
the art of blending and rolling from his Cuban grandfather. He's a grade 9 master roller who has worked for some of Cuba's
most famous factories including Bauza, H. Upmann and Cohiba's legendary El Laguito.
For those unfamiliar with the hand-rolled cigar industry, Serafin and Gonzalez are happy to educate on
the various types of tobacco leaf and to explain filler, wrapper and binder, show their molds and demonstrate the rolling
process. Consider it an adult field trip.
Cigars have been a Serafin family tradition for more than 100 years. Great-Grandfather Antonio came to
Cuba from Spain in the 1890s. An expert cigar roller and tobacco leaf grower, he owned and operated farms and factories in
Cuba. His son Don Ramon created the "Tobacos Serafin" brand in the 1940s. His son Ramon A. continued the tradition
until leaving Cuba in 1968, settling in New Jersey where Arnold was born.
Arnold claims his love for cigars began in his teens when visiting his grandfather in Cuba: "It
was special because this would be the last time I would see him. I decided I needed to keep the family cigar making tradition
In 2003, Arnold created an Internet
business, serafincigars.com. He moved his family from Miami to Spring Hill in 2006. In 2007 he opened a cigar store in Tarpon
Springs, where his dad had settled and was making his own line of cigars. Serafin says with his dad's support, that store
does very well. While recently dining at the County Line Café, he and his wife noticed the empty storefront next door
and decided it was the right time and place to expand the "Serafin" legacy to Hernando County.
Serafin claims a unique feature of the store
will be the large selection of hand rolled cigars as well as their walk-in humidor.
Serafin says he felt an establishment like his was a good fit with the local economy.
"I feel cigar lovers in Hernando County
need a place to get fresh, hand-rolled cigars as opposed to the mass-produced types," he says, adding, "There's
a huge difference between cigar and cigarette smokers. Many cigar smokers like to relax and appreciate a good cigar, and are
more 'leisure-time' than everyday smokers. They'll sit on their porch or go fishing, golfing, etc., and enjoy a fine cigar,
forget their worries and let go of some stress. A lot of my clients smoke on weekends with friends or loved ones. It's a pastime
more than a habit, in my opinion.
Serafin says many people stop in to offer encouragement and he's been told, "This is great - we
really needed this in Spring Hill." They may be right. According to Wikipedia, the U.S. is by far the top consumer of
cigars. The Serafins feel good about opening in Spring Hill and believe they'll do well. They are also looking for opportunities
to support local charity events.
Serafin de Cuba plans a grand opening sometime around the December holidays. They have gift certificates
available and also hand roll cigars for private parties, corporate events and other occasions. Their Web site lists the types
of cigars available at their two locations. Serafin de Cuba Spring Hill is open Monday thru Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m and
closed Sunday. Their Tarpon Springs location is open 7 days a week.
Name: Serafin de Cuba Cigars, Inc.
Location: 124 Commercial Way, Spring Hill
Web site: www.serafincigars.com