12 Sep 2011
Cigar City Magazine, the vision of Lisa M. Figueredo, is Tampa’s premiere magazine for information about the history of the Tampa Bay area. Lisa feels passionately about her blended culture, history, and family and started the magazine as a celebration of her heritage.
Stogie Guys: How did Cigar City Magazine get started?
Lisa Figueredo: I owed an ad agency and was up late one night working and was thinking of when my Abuelo Lee and Abuela Nena would have fresh hot Cuban bread and butter waiting for me when I woke up with some hot café con leche. Then my Abuela Nena and I would catch the bus and ride over to Ybor City for the day or sometimes my Abuelo Lee would take me to the local cigar factories to pick up the steams and waste from the tobacco leaves that he would use to spread on people’s lawns. I was thinking about how much I missed them and how I wished I could get those days back. That’s when I came up with the idea to write about my stories and the history of Tampa.
I come from a long line of people who made a difference in Tampa. My family on my father’s side boasted the first Mayor of West Tampa who was instrumental in helping Jose Martí spark the Cuban Revolution and win independence from Spain. His name was Fernando Figueredo. On my mother’s side, her Great Grandfather Enrique Henriquez was the last Mayor of West Tampa. My Great Grandmother was also Carmen Ramirez who was a famous actress from Spain and was instrumental in raising money for the local theaters in Ybor City.
SG: What is the best part about being the publisher of Cigar City Magazine?
LF: The best part is giving back to the city I grew up in and love so much, and giving a voice to its past. People don’t realize the rich history we have here in Tampa and how lucky we are to be a part of it. If one article touches one person’s heart when they realize that, that’s the best part.
SG: What makes Cigar City Magazine different from other cigar publications?
LF: Contrary to our name, we do not rate cigars or write about individual cigars. Instead, we focus our stories on the cigar factories and how they got here. We also do feature stories on famous cigar pioneers like Arturo Fuente, Angel Oliva, J.C. Newman, and more. I got the name because back in the heyday of the cigar factories, Tampa was once nicknamed “Cigar City.” By the late 1960s, after the embargo of Cuba, factories were closing and many were going to machines. The name got lost until 2005 when I resurrected it by calling the magazine Cigar City. Seems now-a-days everyone is using it: Spirit of Cigar City, Cigar City Brewery, Cigar City Tattoo Convention, Cigar City Darlings, etc. People ask me all the time if I get upset when I see people using my trademarked name and I say, “Hell no!” We are Cigar City and I’m just happy I was able to make it come back alive. Plus, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
SG: How much space do you dedicate to cigars, cigar industry trends, and Tampa’s local cigar bars and shops?
LF: It’s hard to talk about Tampa without talking about the cigar industry. Though most of our stories are about history we do try and throw in a few things for our loyal cigar connoisseur. In our last issue we did an interview with Pete Johnson, owner of Tatuaje Cigars, and we have written stories about the famous cigar families and factories. We never rate cigars nor will we ever because we are Cigar City and we love them all.
SG: One of my favorite issues is the Fidel Castro Mob issue. Are there any forthcoming stories or issues that you are really excited about?
LF: I love each and every issue, but if I had to pick three, I would say our Mob issue, our Cuba issue, and the Cigar Woman issue. You can read them online right here.
SG: Talk a bit about some of your recurring features like “Mama Knows,” “Café Con Leche,” and the “On the Town” photos. What can readers expect from these, and other regular features in the magazine?
LF: “Mama Knows” is probably one of our most widely anticipated columns. Mama does not have a subtleness about her when it comes to giving advice; she tells it like it is. We left her out of an issue one time and I almost had a revolt on our hands from the readers. Mama gets more emails than any other staff member. Our “Café con Leche” is a cool column and mainly we interview famous and even sometimes a few infamous people now and then. Our “On the Town” is a great way to thank my readers. It’s mainly photos of them at all of the events we do or go to.
SG: Who is involved in the magazine? Tell us a bit about the major contributors.
LF: Cigar City is made up of many writers who, for the most part, just want to write about the history of Tampa. Some of these writers are famous, like Scott Deitche, author of Cigar City Mafia, to the daughter submitting a story about her father that worked in a cigar factory, to the professor at a major university. Then of course we have the great historian, Emanuel Leto, who also works at the Tampa Bay History Center, who really has made this magazine possible. Paul Guzzo, who used to write for La Gaceta, gives us many great articles like “Sleeping with the Enemy,” which tells how the Hillsborough Sheriff Office traded guns to Fidel Castro for the release of Santo Trafficante, Jr.
SG: Tampa has always taken great pride in its history and Cigar City Magazine has always celebrated that history. With such a rich history of cigars, the Cuban, Spanish, and Italian cultures, baseball and bolita, how do you decide what goes into the magazine?
LF: It’s not easy. The best way I can explain it is like this: Remember when you got that first new bike and you wanted to show it off to the whole neighborhood and you just couldn’t wait? It’s like that with many of our stories. We usually always have so many in the pipeline it’s hard to choose. But I guess that’s what has kept us around for seven years…having good material for every issue.
We thank Lisa for her willingness to sit down and talk with StogieGuys.com. Please visit Cigar City Magazine on the web to find the latest issue and subscribe. Or, if you live in the Tampa area, be sure to pick up the latest copy.
photo credit: LinkedIn