Capital Cigar Lounge – An Alec Bradley Partnered Lounge
April was a special month for the Capital Cigar Lounge (CCL; capitalcigar.com) team as they welcomed Alan Rubin, founder of the esteemed Alec Bradley Cigar Co., to Lincoln for the very first time. Lounge owners, Anthony (Tony) Goins and Austin Hillis, arranged a private dinner with Alan and their private members, and then Alan joined over 100 local cigar enthusiasts at the lounge throughout the weekend for a public meet and greet event. Guests had the chance to hear Alan talk about his love for the industry and what it took to build the Alec Bradley empire.
Only select establishments carry the Alec Bradley name, and Capital Cigar is one of them. In fact, CCL just so happens to be Alec Bradley’s first partnered lounge in North America, offering patrons a variety of quality Alec Bradley cigars.
AN INTERVIEW WITH ALAN RUBIN
Why did Alec Bradley decide to partner with Capital Cigar in Lincoln, Nebraska? – Tony and Austin brought the opportunity to Alec Bradley. They shot us the idea at the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association’s annual tradeshow in 2018. I was a little hesitant because Alec Bradley hasn’t partnered with or sponsored a lounge in the US before, but when Tony and Austin immediately followed up by hopping on a plane and visiting us at our offices in Florida, I knew that we could partner with them. Not only that, I realized that Tony, Austin, and the entire crew at Capital Cigar weren’t just partners, they’re family! Their professionalism, passion, and dedication moved me. Alec Bradley had to be a part of Capital Cigar Lounge—this is something special.
What makes this partnership unique compared to Alec Bradley’s other partnerships? – We value all of our relationships—every customer is a partner. The unique quality to Alec Bradley and Capital Cigar is the feeling of togetherness and family. Tony and Austin put something special together and invited us into their home.
What does it mean to be an Alec Bradley partnered lounge? – We’re all a part of one big family. We are honored and humbled to be a part of the Capital Cigar Lounge vision. Tony and Austin could have picked almost any company to be their partners, but they believed in the Alec Bradley brand and what we stand for, “The Experience.”
How did the Alec Bradley brand come to be? – I worked along with my father in a nuts and bolts business. I was introduced to cigars by my best friend’s father, who was very successful in his business. I found cigars to be a great equalizer and it helped me multiple times in my career. In the mid-90s, I sold the nuts and bolts business. One of my employees asked me what I was going to do next. I told him I had no idea. He basically said, “You love cigars, you should do that.” This was the mid-90s, the Cigar Boom was coming to an end, but I really had no idea. I went to my first trade show with a tobacconist friend of mine and fell in love with the business. I began the company as Bogey’s Stogies, selling cigars to golf courses. I was struggling trying to build a company during the Cigar Bust, but I doubled down while others were leaving the business. I hooked up with another struggling manufacturer, my partner today, Ralph Montero, and we’ve been building award-winning lines ever since under Alec Bradley—the names of my two sons, Alec and Bradley.
Who are the faces behind Alec Bradley today? – We all wear multiple hats. Everyone at Alec Bradley is a face, but in the premium cigar industry, there is a fascination with brand owners and blenders—it’s a part of the cigar culture. Brand owners have been elevated to celebrity status amongst enthusiasts, so I guess I would be considered a face. As well as my boys, Alec and Bradley, who are working for the family business. People want to meet them too, so they would also be considered faces of the brand.
What sets Alec Bradley apart from other cigar brands? – I always struggle with this question. One important thing, I guess, is while many other companies do focus groups, market research, etc., our goal as a company is to make cigars that we enjoy and we put our best foot forward to enthusiasts, hoping that they enjoy them as well. We want our products to be the best supporting actor. Something that is there to help enjoy an experience. We want our cigars to enhance the best part of your day.
What were your expectations going into your first Nebraska visit? – I expected to see our family at Capital Cigar and their extended family of customers. I was really looking forward to seeing the shop in person for the first time as well.
Why did you feel it was important for you to travel to Lincoln to visit Capital Cigar Lounge yourself? – The trip had nothing to do with me. It had everything to do with seeing the Alec Bradley family at Capital Cigar.
Was there anything specific you hoped to accomplish during your time in Lincoln? – I hoped that my visit would help the cigar enthusiasts of Lincoln and the surrounding area to really take in the passion, professionalism, and dedication that Tony and Austin exude. Capital Cigar is a testament to their love for the cigar community and the community of Lincoln as a whole.
What surprised you the most during your visit to Capital Cigar Lounge? – The genuine kindness and thoughtfulness of the people of the city of Lincoln and the enthusiasm of Capital Cigar’s patrons. Everyone went out of their way to make me feel like I was home.
How would you describe your experience in Lincoln? – One of the most enjoyable of my career.
Are there any final thoughts or words of wisdom that you would like to leave with the cigar enthusiasts in the Lincoln area, especially those who were not able to attend your event at the lounge? – Tony and Austin created a welcoming atmosphere for enthusiasts from all walks of life. Capital Cigar is a “people lounge” built around the enjoyment of cigars. A visit to Capital Cigar Lounge is a true socially enlightening experience.