In the Casa Linda neighborhood of Dallas, 34-year-old businessman Jose Hernandez is following in the footsteps of his Cuban father and grandfather by selling premium hand-rolled cigars. His products are quickly becoming a viral sensation in North Texas.
Hernandez grew up in Cuba, watching his grandfather Faustino manage the family’s tobacco plantation and skillfully fabricate cigars by hand. Hernandez began learning the art of cigar rolling at the age of 10.
But the good times were cut short when Cuba’s dictator, Fidel Castro, seized the family’s plantation and shuttered the family business. About a decade ago, Hernandez fled to Chile before eventually making his way to North Texas.
In Texas, Hernandez earned a living driving a forklift and collecting trash, all the while looking for a way to make a new start in the cigar business. Then one day, an advertisement for a gun show caught his eye, and he decided to demonstrate his cigar-rolling skills at the gun shows.
Week after week, Hernandez worked the gun shows, showing off his skills, selling lots of cigars, and developing a large following. Although the cigars were a hit, there was little opportunity for repeat customers, so Hernandez saw the need to open his first cigar shop.
Hernandez and his wife poured all the money they had into purchasing a small house in Royse City, which they converted into a store, naming it Faustino Cigars in honor of his grandfather. Meanwhile, Hernandez continued to take his cigar rolling table to gun shows and other events, such as weddings, golf tournaments, and private parties.
As he makes cigars, he describes the flavors of his creation with rich words and gives listeners tips for rolling the ultimate Cuban cigar. He says a “good leaf and a good roll are the keys.”
The wrapper of a good cigar is made of one leaf, which makes up 60% of its goodness, according to Hernandez. He explained that the leaf’s base — the part closest to the rest of the plant — should be at the end that goes into the mouth, while the part of the leaf most proximate to the sun is the end that goes up in flames. As the cigar burns, the flavors change.
Hernandez explained the essential content of a cigar, the leaf varieties, and how they contribute to a ‘Habano’s,’ something from Havana, flavor. He emphasized that the innards of the cigar are also important: he combines several ingredients using his secret recipe to create a potent filler mix.
Hernandez’s success at the little store in Royse City and at private events and gun shows eventually led to the opening of the newest Faustino Cigar store in Casa Linda. The new location has a temperature-controlled humidor room where Hernandez keeps his products.
Although Faustino Cigars is located 1,400 miles away from its roots in Cuba, Hernandez hopes to keep the business and the family traditions alive for many more years to come.