YBOR CITY, Fla. — If you've ever driven along I-4 near Ybor City you've probably noticed the sign, "Home of Cuesta Rey Cigars."
J.C. Newman Cigars is America's oldest family-owned premium cigar maker.
The building is 111-years-old and on the National Register of Historic Places and for good reason.
It's the last of Tampa's 150 original cigar factories still in operation.
Our ABC Action News crew went along for a tour from start to finish as they make cigars right here in Ybor City.
The three-story tour gives you an idea of what it takes to put these cigars together.
The hardworking people here use 1931 hand-operated machines and, in fact, on the third floor, you can find men and women still hand-rolling what's considered some of the finest cigars.
"We're sitting now on the third floor called the American room, where we have three rollers each make 100 cigars a day. And two of the rollers are making a cigar called the American which was the first cigar made in this factory in 1910," explained Bobby Newman.
Bobby Newman and his brother are currently running J.C. Newman, the company their grandfather started.
"My brother and I are third-generation. It's just the two of us and we now have the fourth generation coming in here. It's important to leave, leave something, we think, so people can appreciate the art of making cigars for Tampa," explained Newman.
"The cigar has meant so much to the city of Tampa. And you can imagine the 700 people when Martinez-Ybor came here. And now Tampa is like one of the most popular cities," said Newman.
A few years ago the company went through renovations, there's now a museum inside that's free to the public.
In fact, you can take the same exact tour our crew did. It costs $15 and lasts about 75 minutes.
The Newman's continue to look toward a bright future.
"We are going to later in this year, 2022, we're going to start hand cigar making classes. So you don't have to go to Nicaragua or the Dominican Republic or Honduras. Come to Tampa, you don't need a passport to come to Tampa here in America. And we'll teach you how to make cigars," said Newman.