On January 28, J.C. Newman held a ribbon-cutting ceremony outside of their cigar factory, El Reloj, in Ybor City, Florida. The ceremony marks the completion of the factory’s thorough restoration, opening El Reloj to the general public as a living museum.
It’s the perfect role for the storied structure. Built more than 110 years ago, the factory is nearly as old as the J.C. Newman brand itself. As the company’s president Eric Newman puts it:
“Walking through our factory is like walking back in time. Whether you are a cigar smoker or not, you will be intrigued seeing how we are make cigars – both on the same hand-operated cigar machines that my grandfather used in the 1930s as well as by hand just like my grandfather made them in the 1890s.”
That’s right, J.C. Newman Cigar Company has existed for about 125 years, spanning four generations. In fact, it’s now the oldest family-owned premium cigar company in the U.S. This rich history is exactly what’s on display at El Reloj.
Visitors will learn about the impact that the cigar industry had on the greater Tampa area. At a certain point, there were upwards of 150 cigar factories hand-rolling as many as 500 million premium cigars per year. Today, the El Reloj is the last cigar factory still operating in the city. If you plan to be in the area, this newly restored factory-turned-museum is now a must-visit destination. Safety-conscious tours with masks are already available, so be sure to book yours today.