STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) —
“Everything is about tastes, everything is about sounds, everything is about what you’re doing in the moment and enjoying the moment,” explains Tony Ghaffari.
It’s vibrant, yet laid back.
“We’re always late to everything, I’m always late to everything, I’m on Cuban time, right?” says Ghaffari.
And not something you often see in Central Pa.
“This shirt is one that I typically wear in Miami, you can’t really pull it off in State College,” laughs Ghaffari.
But the Hispanic culture and community is slowly growing, with the help of people like Ghaffari.
He owns ‘Your Cigar Den’ in downtown state college.
“Cigars are interwoven into the Hispanic culture just like rice and beans are,” he explains.
Cigars are how he shares his love for his mother’s Cuban culture. He gives customers a place to get away and enjoy the cigar experience.
“They take the amount of time that that cigar’s going to smoke and they’re going to do whatever they’re gonna do with that time. Whether it’s sit down with old friends, play dominos or just do nothing, it’s part of the relaxation therapy of the person smoking a cigar,” Ghaffari explains.
But he’s taken it out of the shop and into the streets by planning the area’s first Hispanic festival.
“I think it just opened up a little insight into what it’s like in a Latin community,” he says.
Back in September, more than 150 people showed up to Havana Fest, taking in the sights, sounds, and food of Hispanic culture.
“This is like a gateway party to more Latin things,” exclaimed Ghaffari.
He hopes it gives folks in Central Pa an appetite for more. Slowly but surely, he sees it happening in State College.
“One of the things that I’m always really happy to see especially being here 21 years, wherever I am to hear somebody speaking Spanish,” says Ghaffari, “because I can see that the community is growing.”