TAMPA, Fla. — Ybor City’s last operating cigar factory, J.C. Newman Cigar Company, will hold its Founder’s Day celebration on Saturday, May 18, to mark 129 years since opening in 1895. 

This year, 4th generation owner Drew Newman is putting on a Cuban sandwich eating competition to honor the other Ybor City fan favorite.

What You Need To Know

  • JC Newman Cigar Company is celebrating 129 years since their founding in 1895

  • The last operating cigar factory in Ybor City is throwing a block party and Cuban sandwich eating competition

  • The competition features Tampa Bay residents and competitive eating World Champion Miki Sudo and Nick Wehry

“The Cuban sandwich is Tampa’s traditional food, and it represents the wonderful immigrant community that founded Ybor City and built Tampa,” Newman said. “And it’s all pressed together, just like the melting pot that was Ybor City 100 plus years ago.”

The eating competition will take place at Cigar Workers Park, across the street from the block party and the national historic landmark El Reloj Cigar Factory.

That is where visitors can also come to see a little bit of living history.

“What’s amazing is that we can walk up here today, and the way cigars are made is the same as it was 100 years ago,” he said. “All done by hand, and this is what made Tampa famous, and this is why Tampa became such a big important city.”

Also helping to make this Founder’s Day even more special is a celebrity appearance by world champion eating competitor, Tampa Bay’s own Miki Sudo.

“I’m shooting for maybe 20 or so. But we’ll see,” Sudo said. “I’ll have my work cut out for me that day.”

The world champion is trying to break the Cuban sandwich eating record with some friends.

“It’s always great when we get to eat delicious food in contests,” she said. “So, if anything, that might be a distraction. I need to remind myself this is a contest and not to eat leisurely.”

Her husband and fellow competitive eating champion Nick Wehry will be there too.

Cuban sandwiches, cigars and eating champions all put together, makes for a feel-good time, according to Newman.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to keep this tradition alive,” he said. “When you think of Tampa, you think of Cuban sandwiches and cigars.”