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New Downtown Cigar Shop has Puerto Rican Beginnings

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman New Downtown Cigar Shop has Puerto Rican BeginningsAll photos by Taijuan Moorman.
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When Patricio Peña Medina first moved to the states for baseball, he surprisingly landed at the University of Northwest Ohio in Lima. Medina was born in the Dominican Republic, and was raised in Puerto Rico, but says he felt he could live his life here.

”It reminded me a lot of the peace I had in Puerto Rico,” he says.

Medina represents three generations of cigar rollers. His father worked as a tobacconist in Puerto Rico while his grandfather, Don Rey’s namesake, was a “master cigar roller.” As a child, Medina started to roll himself. He says he practiced enough to complete half his father’s supply, which was motivated by his desire to spend more time with him.

Medina’s father wanted to open a cigar shop in honor of his grandfather. They started with a fold-up table next to a bar in Santurce, San Juan, and the company eventually grew into four established locations across the island. In its success, the Don Rey team broke two Guinness World Records for the longest hand-rolled cigar. (The record is now held by Cuban cigar roller Jose Castelar Cairo.)

Don Rey Cigar’s 2007 Guinness World Record certificate.

The Columbus location at 11 E. Gay St. is the first Don Rey Cigar in the U.S. Medina saw the storefront open up in July and took the opportunity to bring a little bit of Puerto Rico to Ohio. He started moving in in September.

Half of the shop has yet to be finished, but Medina has already gotten eager responses. He says he feels that his presence is wanted because of the Downtown setting. “You can’t relax if you don’t have a good cigar in front of you,” he says.

Medina is still waiting on permits to add a bar to the shop but hopes to start construction and have it completed by December. The shop will also have an outdoor patio with a “lively, almost jungle-ish” theme, partly because the building doesn’t allow smoking inside, and also as an attempt to recreate the same peace the Caribbean holds.

”That way people can sit down and feel like they’re in Havana in the middle of Downtown. To have that peace of the greenery around you,” Medina says. “To have a place where they can go to and kind of feel [like they’re in] a secluded sanctuary, I feel would be really important.”

For more information on Don Rey Cigar, visit donreycigar.com.

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