Back in the days when South Miami was a very small town named Larkins, nurserymen Robert and Harold Dorn designed and built three buildings. Erected between 1925 and 1926 this handsome trio still stands at US 1 and Sunset Drive. The one that wraps around the corner was planned as a bank. Yet that was not to be. Today the bank building hosts a number of businesses. Vilar Cigar has the space with the original vault at 5910 S. Dixie Hwy.
Henry Vilar, owner of the aromatic cigar emporium, has been selling cigars in South Miami for more than 20 years. Aficionados of fine cigars consider Henry’s place something of a club, meeting there regularly for some luxury smokes and the opportunity to unwind with friends.
Recently, Vilar held the first of what he and others plan to make a bi-monthly event — the chance for business representatives and owners to get together for an evening of camaraderie and networking. A suggestion by one of Vilar’s customers, attorney Yoel Molina, networking evenings will take place at different venues in the South Miami Coral Gables business arena.
“I enjoy networking and I think the timing is right. It’s great to hang out and support friends and their businesses,” said Molina.
Vilar’s take was more direct.
“It’s to help us do business,” he says. “That’s what we’re here for.”
The invitation-only event included special “swag” bags for the ladies complete with Jo Malone cologne and La Mer skin creams and a couple of celebrities to help make the evening particularly memorable. Grammy award winner singer-songwriter, Jon Secada and a past member of the cast of “The Real Housewives of Miami,” Cristina Rice, were on hand to meet, greet and talk about their respective businesses.Secada is releasing a new album named for the featured song, “I’m Never Too Far Away”. Rice continues to be successful in her shop Bri-Bri Boutique. Once located in South Miami for 12 years, the shop is now online; she has also introduced a new line of swimwear called Cuban Rice.
Secada spoke of his 20-year career and South Miami.
“I have been blessed with a wonderful career; I love what I do,” he said. “South Miami is a welcoming place and I really like the multi-ethnic flavor here.”
For Vilar and Garcia, the love of cigars is a passion that keeps them both deeply involved in the store.
“Cigars are like coffee and wine, their many flavors and varieties depend on the country of origin,” said Vilar.
Vilar’s wife, Rossana, hails from a Cuban tobacco-growing family. Her father, Diego Rodriguez, owned the legendary El Corojo Farm, known for the tobacco’s quality as a wrapper.
Vilar, who once sold cigars at Macabi’s in South Miami, enjoys retailing cigars in the historic bank building. Upstairs is a room outfitted with couches and a bigscreen television. Hung around the room are lockers that customers can rent to stash their supply of favorite cigars. Some famous folks have lockers here and, as Vilar is quick to tell you, women are among his customers, too.
For more information, call 305-663- 1818.