TAMPA, Fla. — If you've had a chance to walk down the cobbled streets of Ybor City, you probably know what it's well-known for — the abundance of roosters strolling the streets and, of course, the cigar shops that can be found around every street corner. 

While there are many smaller cigar shops, only one large factory remains in operation today. The J.C. Newman Cigar Company dates all the way back to 1895, and it's still thriving. 

What You Need To Know

  • J.C. Newman Cigar Company is a large factory in Ybor City

  • Hand rollers with a history in the industry work at the operation

  • People can tour the factory and enroll in cigar hand-rolling class

  • Registration is required for the hand-rolling experience

In a third-story room of the historic J.C. Newman Cigar Company, select talented individuals like Luis Martinez prepare their workstations to perform a time-honored skill. Martinez has worked at J.C. Newman as a professional cigar roller for five years, but he's been perfecting his craft for the past 28. 

Martinez was raised in Cuba, where his grandfather grew tobacco for a living. So as a young boy, he would watch his grandfather roll his own cigars, starting his passion and curiosity for rolling. In 1994, he enrolled in a cigar-rolling school in Cuba and honed the age-old craft into his profession. 

“The training takes about a year-and-a-half, but it really depends how fast you are learning,” Martinez said. “But after that, you start making different sizes and different blends over the years."

Martinez has lived in the United States for the past 15 years and continues to perfect his skills at the J.C. Newman Cigar Company, a company that got its start when Julius Caesar Newman rolled his first cigar in the family barn in Cleveland, Ohio.

Now a fourth generation is running the family-owned business, but it still emphasizes tradition, with a small staff on site like Martinez to help keep the art of hand rolling alive. 

J.C. Newman Cigar Company offers tours and has started hand-rolling classes taught by its staff, giving individuals the opportunity to get to know not just how to roll, but the company's culture and history. 

J.C. Newman Cigar Company is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It is closed on Saturdays and Sundays. To book a tour or schedule a hand-rolling experience, visit the company’s website.