Mobile cigar shop captures look, feel of classic lounges
By GRAIG GRAZIOSI
After being out on the road for days laying asphalt in Pennsylvania, all Dave Ladigo wanted was to get home, sit on his patio and light up a cigar.
Today, that after-work tradition has blossomed into a side venture for Ladigo and his friend and co-owner Marc Len in the form of Cut and Toast Premium Cigars.
Unlike its brick-and-mortar counterparts, Cut and Toast Premium Cigars is a mobile shop – the entire store is operated from a trailer – and caters to events such as festivals, weddings, private parties and golf outings.
Len – who was around cigars his entire life thanks to his father partaking – and Ladigo met working at a local uniform company and, after discovering their mutual hobby, began discussing the potential to turn it into a side business.
While the idea of a mobile cigar shop isn’t totally novel, Len and Ladigo spent half a year designing and hand crafting the look of their trailer with the hopes of capturing the “hardwood and brown leather” look of classic cigar lounges.
To do so, the men used cedar wood to build the structure’s interior frame, ceiling beams and the shop’s exterior counter. Stonework tiles – real stone – line the shop’s back wall, and the ceiling is covered with a convincing plastic facsimile of late 1800s tin tiling.
“Most of the interior work was done between February and May of this year,” Len said. “We really just started. We got the trailer in February and our first gig was near the beginning of summer.”
In addition to the look of the trailer, the shop also features a wooden, fully operational humidor – a cabinet for storing cigars that regulates temperature and humidity, both of which can ruin cigars if not kept in check.
“The humidor has a working air conditioner and we keep the temperature and humidity at 72 degrees,” Ladigo said. “We want to make sure when people buy from us, they get the same quality from their cigar they’d get if they’d bought it at a brick-and-mortar cigar shop.”
The shop’s name – Cut and Toast – refers to the act of cutting a cigar and toasting the tip to ignite the tobacco leaves.
Len and Ladigo, both of Poland, said they wanted a name that sounded classy rather than kitschy or overly corporate because they want their shop to blend in well whether they are working a festival or a formal function at a country club.
“We want to keep it boutique,” Len said.
The shop stocks between 22 and 25 cigar brands, many of which are staples such as Macanudo and Julius Caesar, with most individual cigars ranging from $8 to $11 and featuring both mild and full-bodied tobacco.
The most expensive cigar the men currently carry is a Julius Caesar Churchill that will set a smoker back $18.50.
Len and Ladigo said they wanted to keep their stock high quality but accessible to customers’ varied tastes and levels of familiarity with cigars.
“Most people who buy from us aren’t regular cigar smokers,” Ladigo said. “So one of the things I like most about doing this is connecting people with new cigars based on what they’ve liked in the past. It’s fulfilling when you help someone discover something new that they like.”
Len and Ladigo said for now the shop is a fun and fulfilling side gig and that they don’t plan on quitting their day jobs just yet, though they hope in the future to build additional trailers and eventually open up their own storefront.
“We’d love to set up somewhere like downtown Youngstown and be a part of the renewal down there, or Boardman or Canfield,” Ladigo said. “Really, we’re open to anywhere that would be interested to have us.”
In the meantime, the men plan to continue working events and enjoying their cigars.
“Honestly, it’s work but it’s also relaxing,” Len said. “When I smoke a cigar it’s calming. It’s like I’m in a different place.”