The Sunset Strip has everything: sushi shops, nightclubs, tattoo parlors, mini-marts, clothing stores, restaurants, record shops ... and the Cuban Seed Cigar Company. Considering real estate prices in the area, it's not surprising that this shop has a tiny storefront, but a sign with 2-foot-high lettering proclaiming "Cuban Cigars" catches the eye. Laith Haddad, a Jordanian American family man who lives in San Marino, is the proprietor.
Stogies with style
Inside the Cuban Seed Cigar Company, forest green walls, polished wood furnishings and a pair of caramel-colored leather sofas meet at an angle where a TV set provides the small talk. Haddad, in a tan cashmere pullover and charcoal slacks, greets customers. Those who know his wares follow him into the temperature- and humidity-controlled room with shelves holding hundreds of varieties of smokes.
Haddad admits the "Cuban Cigars" sign gets people in the door. "But it's no hoax. The cigars are made with the finest tobaccos, aged for a minimum of four years, and they are made by Cubans -- in America," he says.
"When a customer is considering taking a personal vault" -- a mahogany drawer with a silver-plate nameplate -- "they take note of the names of some of my celebrity customers, and they are impressed."
"I love to make custom cigars for my celebrity customers. I take their favorite tobaccos, flavors and make their own cigars. Then I have custom labels made for their exclusive stock."
-- Carolyn Patricia Scott