Sunday, January 27, 2013

Saturday at the Hut - 1/26/13

This is a good news/bad news kind of post. As most of you probably know by now, The Tobacco Hut lives! If you haven't discovered on your own, or read it here two weeks ago, the Hut has new owners - Pete and Laurie Yates. (My apologies to Laurie for misspelling her name in the last blog update). So that's the very good news. Lou has been bringing Pete up to speed on everything these last couple weeks.

More good news...inventory levels are getting back to normal. Orders have been placed for everyone's favorite cigars and shipments are coming in.

Lou, of course, has the best news of all. Dotty is scheduled to come home this week and he and Diane are moving full speed ahead with their preparations. We wish them all well and Lou has pledged to make an appearance at the Hut as soon as the three of them are settled into somewhat of a routine.

Now the bad news. It's only slightly bad, so don't get too worked up. The Hut will be closing temporarily. Not for long - maybe a week or two, starting this Wednesday, Jan 30. In other words, Tuesday, Jan. 29 will be the last day, just for a little while.

Pete wants to do some minor remodeling to the place. He wants to paint the walls, replace the ceiling tiles, that sort of thing. Nothing major, just spruce it up a bit. And he can't very well do all that if we're hanging around taking up space.

So if you need some sticks, you have a couple days yet - this Monday and Tuesday - before he starts the remodel. After the work is done, Pete will open the doors and probably have a grand re-opening event of some sort.

In addition to signs in the window, he will let me know when the re-open date is and I'll put it in the blog straightaway so everyone knows. So don't ignore emails from me like you normally do - there will be important information in the next one!

By the way, Lou's official last day at the Hut will be this Tuesday. After that, he'll stop in from time to time (once he gets Dotty squared away), so if you want to pop in and see him, make sure to do it this Monday or Tuesday; I know he'd appreciate it.

That's really it. It was kind of a slow day at the Hut this Saturday, probably because of Gasparilla. But Joe was there, along with Peter G and Aaron. Oh, and thanks for the doughnuts, Pete - much appreciated. Hmm...can't remember Lou ever bringing us doughnuts. Just sayin'.

See everybody in a couple weeks - I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday at the Hut - 1/12/13

It's been awhile since I've posted - remember, I'm on a bit of a hiatus - but I have some exciting news to share. The Tobacco Hut lives! As most of you know, Lou has had the business up for sale for some time now but with no buyers, he had started the process of shutting the store down. Dotty is slated to come home soon and he wanted to spend his time with her. So every week the inventory would diminish and the shelves looked more and more bare. I steeled myself for the inevitable - no more Saturdays at the Hut. My wife wasn't too happy about the prospect either, as she practically pushes me out of the house on Saturdays.

Mike G (left), explains to the Hut's new owner, Pete (right),
that he gets free shipping to Tennessee when he places an
order. Lou quickly disavows even knowing Mike.
(Click to enlarge)
But, at the eleventh hour, a sale has been announced! Pete Yates and his wife Lori (hope I spelled her name correctly), from Clearwater, have stepped forward and purchased the store. It was a whirlwind romance - Pete came in two Fridays ago, and inked the deal with Lou this past Tuesday. Today was Lou's last Saturday as owner of The Tobacco Hut as Pete and Lori take over this Tuesday.

Lou reminiscing before the gang
arrived. (Click to enlarge).
It was bittersweet for us, most of all Lou, as it's been a great ride for the last 28 years. I've been coming to the shop since 1996, and hanging out on Saturdays since 1998. Others have a longer history, such as Mike G who I think was coming even before there was a Tobacco Hut, or even a shopping center there. I think Mike would just stand in the field at the corner of 54 and Madison and smoke a cigar.

So a tip of the pipe to Pete and Lori for keeping the legacy of the Hut going. And my wife sends her heartfelt thanks to you as well.

So besides the announcement that today brought, what else happened at the Hut? Well, let me start with who was in attendance today. We had a full crowd: Lou, Paul O, Don W, Peter G, Joe K, Vic T, Mike G, Scott R, Corey, Jeff D, Tom L, Ross, Pete & Lori, some kid who came in to buy It's a Girl Cigars and stayed to smoke a cigar, and me. The smoke was pretty thick at times, but it was a beautiful day so Lou had the door open which did a good job of keeping the room clear.

Vic (right) showing off his meat
to an eager Joe. (Click to enlarge).
Other than the good news of the Tobacco Hut's continuation, it was also Celebrate Vic's Meat Day. It's only natural that Vic bring us his meat since some of us have sampled his nuts. I guess technically it's not Vic's meat, but some friend of his in New York who makes liverwurst and capicola (also spelt capicollo, capicolla, or the Italian spelling, capocollo. Capicola is a traditional Italian cold cut made from dry-cured whole pork shoulder or neck). He also brought in some New York maple syrup. Some of the guys had put in an order with Vic a couple weeks ago and today he unveiled his meat for all to see. He even sliced some of his meat to try on crackers that Joe had brought.

Scott brought some knives with him, and Vic showed him one of his. We kidded Vic about how useful the knife would be since he keeps it in a sheath, in a box, locked in the trunk of his car. Hope he's not mugged - he'd have to ask the thug to wait five minutes while he gets to the knife.

Joe's paper towel carelessly left on
floor. Vic had nothing to do with it.
(Click to enlarge).
As the new owners take over, let's hope that Joe is more mindful of the paper towel that he constantly leaves on the floor. The photo at left was taken shortly after he left for home. We all noticed it and just shook our head. Maybe Joe was still feeling the effects of the Lido Gomez cigar that kicked his butt today.

Not sure who mentioned it, but someone said that they want a picture taken of Lou actually paying for a cigar. Lou took a lot of good natured ribbing today from all of us. And he was in such a good mood that he didn't mind a bit. I think someone could have lit a fire under his chair and he wouldn't have minded. Oh wait, Joe did that.

The new owners, Pete and Lori, have pledged to keep things at the Hut pretty much the same, although they will restore the store hours at least back to Monday through Saturday. We tried to convince them that Lou bought us all pizza and wings on Saturdays but they weren't buying it. Lori did bring in a container full of homemade cookies. Mike polished them off fairly quickly so was pleased when Lori said she'd bring in a fresh batch every week.

I didn't find out if Lou negotiated the use of the "king's chair" when he visits. Guess we'll find out. Lou will be at the Hut during a transition period while Pete and Lori get up to speed, and plans on making an appearance on Saturdays from time to time. Of course, his first priority is getting Dotty settled in, but I'm sure he won't be able to stay away for too long.

Joe (left) and Lou (right) look on eagerly as Vic
unveils his meat. (Click to enlarge).

Left to right: Joe, Vic, Mike, Don. (Click to enlarge).

Left to right: Scott, Joe, Corey, Mike, Vic. (Click to enlarge).

Lou, I think I speak for everyone when I say congratulations to you in this new chapter of your life. A lot of friendships have been forged at the Hut through the years and we have you to thank. We can also thank you for emptying our wallets. And even some abuse along the way...but we wouldn't have it any other way.

Good luck my friend and enjoy your retirement.