Ahhh Yes!! The Underground Cigar Shop and Lounge NFG19 – a joining of brothers and sisters of the leaf nationwide that love boutique cigars. I have been hearing and reading about the NFG events for a few years, not to mention the host shop, the world famous Underground Cigar Shop. So this year, I took the trek down to Fort Worth, Texas to see for myself what all the talk was about. I have to thank my Stogie Press sponsor, Providencia Cigars for the invite, especially Raymond Zinar and his lovely wife Lori for letting me stay at their casa for the weekend.
NFG19 Meet and Greet
I arrived in Texas in time for the “meet and greet” event which took place on Friday, March 8th. Many brand owners and Facebook friends have told me to be ready for a shock when I first get introduced to the lounge. They were spot on with their descriptions. To begin with it is small building on a large dirt lot surrounded by a tall chain link fence that is topped with razor wire. ‘Am I going to cigar shop or a prison’, I thought.
We parked our vehicle and and walked around the outer perimeter and entered through the opened rolling gate as I took it all in. Of course this is the night before the main event, and there was huge tent set up on the grounds, which I imagine is normally the parking lot. I started to mingle with the those in the crowd, many of which I knew from Facebook but just now had the opportunity to shake their hands and thank some for following Stogie Press.
As you can see in the Facebook live video I posted and provide here for your viewing enjoyment, the folks that visit the Underground Cigar Shop don’t pull any punches and are known for telling it like it is and occasionally breaking your balls.
In fact the term NFG stands for “No Fucks Given“, so don’t be thin skinned if you plan to visit this epic shop and lounge. It’s all in good fun and friendship.
This Underground Cigar Shop is “The Boutique Shop” where you can find many small brands and hard to find cigars. They are actually going to be moving the shop to a larger building up the road and we expect that to happen in the next year, but some told me in jest, it may take ten years. I will be interested to see how Don Wiggins, the owner of the shop, will recreate the same unique ambiance in the new shop.
The evening drew on and I smoked some fine cigars, found some whiskey and rum to sample, and mingled among old and new friends and true boutique cigar enthusiasts. As the night drew to a close we headed back to Ray’s house for some late evening drinks and relaxing time in his Jacuzzi, talking about the future of Providencia Cigars.
NFG 19 Main Event
Saturday morning was the main event of NFG19 and I was able to enter early with Ray and his business partner Jim Faber from Providencia Cigars, so I could cover this event from set up through the day. Here is a video of the brand owners setting up before the crowd was let through the gates. As you can see, there was a grand representation from the best boutique cigars in the industry, not mention the beef brisket that will be smoked all day until it was time to indulge your gastronomic senses.
Once the gates opened the crowd entered and received their swag bags and a card that they would use to purchase additional product at the brand tables. Unlike other events I have been too, the Underground does it a little different. You browse the tables under the tent and if you would like to buy a box, a five pack, or a sampler, they affix a bar code sticker on your card. When you are done shopping, you go back into the shop and pay for your orders and then take your receipt back out to the tables and pick up your orders from each brand owner.
Some brands like Ezra Zion and Noel Rojas (local town favorites) sold out very quickly. Each brand owner also provided raffle tickets for a prize or prizes that they themselves were giving away. There was also raffle prizes from the shop itself for those that purchased them and of course some excellent raffle prizes from Cigars for Warriors which you got by donating cigars to the cause. Mike Bellody, from MLB Cigar Ventures gave away a trip to the Dominican Republic to stay at a house at Camp David, all you needed was to get the airfare. Noel Rojas, gave away a personal cigar blending session. Omar de Frias, from Fratello cigars, gave away an original boxes of his Boxer cigars. All in all there were plenty of happy faces to be seen.
There was ample beer, sugar water, and tea to be had through out the day and when the food was finally ready around 5 PM, the brisket just melted in your mouth. The day drew on and the sun started to set as the brand owners started to break down their tables and the traditional “Roast” began. This is where Don Wiggins thanks everyone for coming out and traveling up to 2,200 miles to attend the NFG19. After a few drunken filled minutes of shutouts and jokes, he introduced the MC of the night, Mr. Fred Rewey (@thegodfadr). You know Fred as the original owner of Nomad Cigars, which he sold this year to Ezra Zion. Fred took the mic and I have to say, he may have lost his calling, as he is quite the comedian. Eventually, other brand owners got on stage and did their shtick. Unfortunately, Ray and Jim were leaving, and being their guest, I left with them.
The event actually closes with a Sunday brunch which I was not able to attend, but for the time I was at NFG19, I had an awesome time. I purchased some five packs of cigars I have been looking for. I enjoyed meeting new friends and old. I want to thank Don Wiggins and his team for putting on a great event, and also Providencia Cigars for being a terrific sponsor of Stogie Press and bringing me in to cover the event. I know whenever I am in the Fort Worth area, I will be back at the Underground Cigar Shop and Lounge, and hope to see the new shop when it opens. Get ready for 2020 and NFG20.