The following article was published today in the Palm Beach Daily News:
New cigar business to open on Palm Beach's Worth Avenue in December
A bookstore owner and fashion boutique operator will team to open Palm Beach's first cigar store this fall.
Matthew Raptis, who owns Raptis Rare Books at 329 Worth Ave., and Stephane Sportouch, who operates 55 Croisette at 237 Worth Ave., hope to debut Churchill Cigar Co. in December, Raptis said.
The store, which will occupy an 800-square-foot space next to Raptis Rare Books in the seven-unit Via Roma Building, will sell fine cigars and accessories.
It also will offer customers the opportunity to smoke their cigars.
"Churchill Cigar Co. will provide an unforgettable experience, as Palm Beach is one of the finest places in the world," Raptis said. "Relaxing and enjoying a cigar is one of the true contemplative pleasures. We want to transmit that experience to others so that others will want to visit and experience Palm Beach."
Added Sportouch, "We wanted to create a unique cigar experience for our customers."
Raptis and Sportouch met several years ago, and formed a relationship over smoking cigars and other shared interests, Raptis said.
"We met on Worth Avenue," Raptis said. "We both own stores here. We just met over cigars, and we talked about philosophy and literature and other various subjects. Cigars are just a wonderful way to relax, and unwind, and talk and communicate."
Shortly after Raptis and his wife, Adrienne, purchased five of the Via Roma commercial condominium units last year, he and Sportouch agreed to go into business together, with cigars as their main focus.
Churchill Cigar Co., which will occupy a space that formerly housed an art gallery, was named after Winston Churchill, the former prime minister of the United Kingdom who was known for his love of cigars.
"Winston Churchill, our namesake, was a well-known cigar aficionado and one of the finest writers of the 20th century," Raptis said. "He influenced the world community in a positive manner."
Churchill Cigar Co. will be the first cigar-related business on the island, Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Laurel Baker said, though Hamptons Palm Beach Fine Wine & Spirits and Scotti's Wines & Liquors sell cigars.
Raptis and Sportouch said they will continue to operate their other businesses once Churchill Cigar Co. opens, though they plan on spending plenty of time there.
"I'm very excited about it," Raptis said. "I love cigars."
Churchill Cigar Co. will be located next to the Via Roma Cafe and the Via Roma Cellars, which also are planning on opening this winter.
Via Roma Cafe will offer Palm Beach residents and visitors to Worth Avenue a place to get coffee and light bites, and Via Roma Cellars will offer contemporary and vintage bottles of wine for sale.