True cigar enthusiasts can be a discerning bunch, and those longing for a rich, lavishly comfortable environment to kick back, light up a stogie, and enjoy their favorite pastime in peace have to go no farther than Matador Cigars Tobacconist and Lounge in Massapequa Park.
Matador Cigars owner Boris Grossman of Rockville Centre had previously worked in the financial industry for quite some time, but due to a changing market, he said that he started looking for other business opportunities to pursue. A longtime cigar aficionado who frequented high-end shops in Manhattan, he decided that it was high time to bring those kinds of accommodations to Long Island smokers and in 2008, opened his first location in Roslyn Heights.
“I wanted to open a place that was very high-class with the very best product. A very comfortable lounge environment with mahogany furniture, leather seating, wood floors and all the amenities like wide-screen televisions,” he said. “Plus, I wanted it to be the type of place where you didn’t have to have a membership…anyone can come in, buy a cigar and hang out. I wanted it to be a Manhattan-type place that looks like a private club, but yet open to the public as a retail tobacconist and lounge.”
Based on the success of his Roslyn Heights location, Grossman opened his second—at 582 Sunrise Highway in Massapequa Park—in August of 2014, followed later by a third in Hauppauge.
Fans of cigar smoking are an especially dedicated breed when it comes to their hobby, and for good reason. There’s nothing quite like a fine cigar, Grossman said. For the uninitiated, he laid out the differences between a cigarette and a cigar, comparing the two as one would a can of beer to a glass of wine. The gap between the two, he noted, is vast.
“First of all, cigarettes are made with chemicals and machine-processed…a cigar is all-natural tobacco that’s not infused with any chemicals. It’s made all by hand—more than 200 hands touch one cigar before it gets into your hands. It’s very labor-intensive,” he said. “From planting, growing, picking fermentation, aging, rolling, aging further…an amazing cigar can take five to six years to make, and even an average one can take more than two years to get out there.”
While Grossman has enjoyed a great deal of success with Matador Cigars—he said that he envisions expansion not just in New York, but possibly nationwide as well—he had to tough things out in the beginning due to some very heavy-handed attempts on the part of New York State to pass excessively-high tobacco taxes. However, after effectively lobbying Albany as a member of an association of tobacconists, Grossman said that taxes were lowered to a far more tolerable level.
“We did a lot of lobbying and a lot of fighting, and a lot of shops went out of business,” he said. “However, the strong ones survived, and hopefully the tax stays low and goes even lower.”
Matador offers all the premium and boutique cigar brands available—either by the cigar or by the box—with extensive and intricate blends hailing from far-off lands such as Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador, or home-grown varieties from places such as the Connecticut Valley. However, everything Grossman sells adheres to one guiding principle: quality, which is something that takes experience to be able to discern when it comes to cigars. Beginners, he said, have to work their way up.
“People usually start out with a mild cigar—an Ashton or a Davidoff—and then you can go a little stronger and develop your palette,” he said. “It’s like wine, you have to learn how to discern flavors and certain compositions. I have a very advanced palette at this point, and I like to constantly change the cigars that I smoke, as long as it’s a good cigar. But, as I like to say, the best cigar is the one that you like.”
Fred Ferdin of Farmingdale is a longtime cigar smoker, and said that he’s been coming to Matador Cigars since the very day—and hour—they first opened for business.
“The first day he opened at 9 a.m., and I was here at five minutes to nine. And I’ve been coming ever since because it’s great,” Ferdin said. “This is just a very relaxing place…you sit down with a bunch of other guys that come here, and just kick back, talk and enjoy a great cigar in a very friendly, clubhouse atmosphere.”
Grossman has left no stone unturned when it comes to pleasing his customers; even humidor lockers can be rented by regulars to keep their purchased stashes as fresh and flavorful as possible for their next visit. It’s all a part of what put Matador Cigars at the very top of the heap for cigar lovers every-where, he said.
“Business has been good, both at my other locations and here in Massapequa…it’s a great location we have,” he said. “Where else can you go, sit down with a group of guys or girls, talk or watch a sports program on TV, and have a nice cigar and all that camaraderie for two hours for as little as 10 dollars?”
To find out more, visit www.matadorcigars.com.