Austin M. Hillis
I grew up with a close cousin that was a cigar enthusiast. On my 18th birthday, I received a present from my cigar fanatic cousin who gave me my first cigar, a Ghurka Park Avenue Connecticut Torpedo. I vividly remember receiving the cigar in a single velvet humidified box. We immediately went to my back patio and l began my experience on how to properly cut, light, and enjoy a cigar. From that point I realized this would be a lifelong enjoyment of mine, not to know what would come only a few short years down the road.
During December 2017, during my winter break (while attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln), I travelled to Pennsylvania for a close friend’s graduation. I soon realized that many online cigar resellers were stationed in Bethlehem, PA, specifically a company called Cigar International. CI has many stores in Bethlehem and as I was driving to my hotel after departing from the airport I saw a sign for their “superstore” and made a stop. At this point in time I was just starting to become more cultured in the vast differences of cigars available to consumers. Upon visiting the store and conversing with the manager of the location he pointed me to a small boutique brand they had just received called Viaje. After returning to Lincoln after the graduation I lit up the Viaje cigar that was recommended to me, and realized it was one of the best cigars I had ever smoked at that point in time. I did extensive research online trying to locate an option to purchase a box of this cigar and realized it was a annual limited run which was sold out. I ended up contacting Viaje Cigars directly and was pointed to a company in Lincoln called Capital Cigar Company (whom I had never heard of my three years while living in Lincoln). This is where I was led to Capital Cigar and made a relationship with the owner at the time; Don Young.
From January-April 2017 I became a frequent customer of Capital Cigar, diving into the wonderful selection of cigars the store had to offer. One day I happened to be in the store while Don was talking to another fellow customer about selling the store so he could move to Florida and be with his daughter. To this day I am not exactly sure what came over me, minus the fact of studying business at UNL, and approached Don regarding buying his business. With minimal business ownership experience, my father (who has owned many successful businesses through his career) guided me through the extensive process and crunching numbers to examine if the business was worth any value to me. On June 1, 2017, I officially purchased Capital Cigar Company. Shortly after I came to be introduced to Tony, a loyal patron to the store for many years. We connected very quickly as Tony and my father were co-workers through the World’s Foremost Bank (Cabela’s banking division). From our weekly conversations Tony and I began conversing more frequently, to the point of considering a partnership which led us to this very lounge.