Sunday, April 26, 2009

De La Concha + Padron = Excellence

On Thursday April 23rd I had the privilege of attending the Padron event and dinner at De La Concha Tobacconist, indubitably one of America's greatest tobacconists. De La Concha's GM and soon to be Certified Retail Tobacconist Ron Melendi was gracious enough to invite me to the event, feed me, and give me the opportunity to learn from the best. As anyone reading this article knows, Padron and De La Concha are the best at what they do, simply because they focus on two things: Products & Customers. It is in their blood; you can see it in their eyes; it is palpable and you can feel it when you are around them. They are focused and committed to the point that they are inspirational.

I think what inspires me the most in this case is the extent to which a great tobacconist will go to provide their customers with extraordinary service and value. Mr. Melendi has started the tradition of turning his retail store into a fine dining restaurant in the middle of NYC since the anti-smoking laws have become so draconian and repressive. He could easily not provide an extravagant dinner event and merely settle for an afternoon visit from a cigar maker. But, he is not the type of person to compromise or give up. Instead, De La Concha closes their store early and transforms their already elegant retail environment into an extraordinary fine dining restaurant, served by nothing less than the best, Rue 57, located just up the block. What other business or group of professionals would go through such trouble to provide their customers with this kind of value? I don't know of any other profession that goes to these lengths to serve.

Ultimately, it was a privilege to attend the event and meet so many great tobacconists. Ron and the other exemplary tobacconists at De La Concha will go down in the annals of history as the best and most committed professionals who refuse to be beaten, stifled, or compromise. It was an honor to see them in action.

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