Zach Zupancic

Zach Zupancic

Senior Designer, SolidWorks addict, AutoCAD zealot, Cyclist, Shade Tree Mechanic, & moderately tall. 

Finding the Location.

I left off yesterday with the simple looking and arrive at the Havana Cigar and Coffee Lounge. I seemed to have forgotten to post the image of the cigar shop so here she is...

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While it may just look like any other cigar shop, everything changes when you walk inside that door.

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"My friend, are you looking for a cigar?"
"Come in my friend, come in"

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Those will be the first words out of Ernie's mouth. He speaks with a thick Latin, I think Cuban, accent and he means every word that he says.

Once you walk in the door you see Javier hard at work rolling cigars.

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Ernie leads me into his cigar room and asks me what I like in a cigar. I respond with "bold, spicy, and full bodied," –like my taste in women zing!--and followed with "what do you smoke?" he responds with “my hand rolled," but if you want a name brand this is one that would suit what you like. He hands me the brand name cigar, whose name escapes me now, and we walk out of the room and head over to the bar. He starts to light it up and asks if I would like a coffee to go with it; and I respond with a double shot of espresso which he agrees would best compliment the cigar that I chose with a thumbs up.

I give him my card, knowing that it'll cost me around $60 for a drink and prime cigar and he tells me that his machine is broken. The cigar is already lit, and the drink is already poured…Fuck… In California we would have to leave some bit of collateral so that they know you will return. Ernie responds with "settle down okay, relax. I trust you my friend, there is an ATM across the street but finish your cigar first. No rush, there is no stress allowed in here. If you walk out on me I am out $20, it is nothing; but I know you wont, you are my friend."

Due to the nonchalant attitude and the surroundings, I felt awesome. I wasn't just another random customer buying cigars; I was a regular.

I start chatting with the two guys that were in there about this that and the other, come to find out that they were from New York. They have been around most of Florida, due to them being scientologists, and told me that all of my driving around looking for the best place to relax had been found; point of fact being that there is no better cigar shop in Florida than where we were located. To make things even better, on the tele there was "Once Upon a Time in Mexico." Victory achieved.

After they left Ernie, Javier, and I just started to talk, nothing special just the type of talk that you have with strangers. Few regulars came in and popped into the conversation when they wanted to, or took control of the convo; but in all circumstances it just added to the comradery that was held at his lounge.

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My cigar was out at this point and I was starting to get hungry so I asked Ernie where I should go to eat. He tells me that I just need to go next door. I mention that after I eat I will grab some money and then come back over so that I can pay him what I owe. He tells me that I need to stop worrying about it and that he knows I will pay him, no pressure at all.

He walks over with me and puts in a good word to the owner saying that "he is my friend from California" I had some grouper and it was surprisingly good. I head over to the ATM and take out some money and head back to the lounge.

Javier was still working away

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And at that point I had to have one of his hand rolled. I pop into the cigar room and pick up one of the hand rolled and ask Ernie for a light.

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After the first puff I was blown away. I just finished off a $50 cigar and his $10 hand rolled was... out of this world. I am no coinsurer of cigars, but it only got better the longer I smoked it. I sat down on the couch and started to drift away into relaxation. While it may seem very trite of me to say that I was relaxed in a place like this, for me true relaxation is a rare commodity. The reason being that the relationship that I am just busts into my mind and ruins all that I had attained, but in this lounge the relationship was far from my mind and I couldn’t be happier. I looked over at the tele to see what was on now and noticed that it was “30 days of Night.” Conversations then turned to vampirism. Hours passed, and like the cigar the conversations the followed with randoms and regulars got better as well.

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As the day came to a close and the cigars were getting low I started to say farewell to Ernie and Javier. Ernie asked me to wait a second, and asked to exchange phone numbers and e-mails. We did and then parted ways.



There is something very elegant about locations; they never seem to be where you would expect them to be, and although very fleeting the moments seem to plume and build with meaning and resonance with the passing of time; one may even say like one of Ernie’s cigars.

Rest of photos can be found here...