Ten Minutes with a Townie

Kutztown’s come a long way since the days of one traffic light, one coffee shop and one convenience store. A few gems have been added here and there, some of them a bit under the radar, but all of them contributing to the wonderful community we love so much. For example, did you know there was a cigar lounge & store on North Constitution Boulevard, tucked away to the left, just before reaching Turkey Hill?

There’s a good chance you heard of the stellar operation and maybe even stopped in for a purchase, but what you might not know is you can now purchase KTL Cigars’ products when staying at Main Street Inn. We always suggest paying the owner a visit if you’re from out of town but when guests are craving a cigar after hours, they can get them right at Main Street Inn Bed & Breakfast and enjoy them on the lovely terrace, porch, or their room balcony.

In an effort to learn more about our awesome cigar supplier and the operation he’s running downtown, we put Todd Folk on the chopping block and loved what he had to say about upcoming events, when he likes to enjoy a cigar, and what Kutztown characteristics he’s fond of. We think you’ll enjoy the answers, too!

Main Street Inn: KTL Cigars is a distributor of tobacco products and accessories in Kutztown, PA with very future plans of becoming a lounge as well. Can you tell us where the entire idea came from for this store and why?

Todd Folk: I was sitting on my porch enjoying a cigar talking with an old friend of mine. It was fall, and both of us were discussing how we did not like to smoke in the cold because it isn’t enjoyable and how the closest cigar lounge was too far away. So, from there I just decided to start one around here.

 

MSI: The Grand Opening of your member’s only lounge is slated for October 13. What can people expect at this special event?

TF: The Oct 13th opening is for Members only. We will be making fresh brick oven pizza for all of our members. It really is just a time where we can thank our member’s and get to know them better through good food and obviously good cigars.

 

MSI: So you have a Member’s Only Lounge. How do you actually become a member? Are there specific requirements and, once a member, what are other rewards besides the lounge?

TF: Becoming a member is actually quite easy, the Club Membership is $120/year + a purchase of at least 6 cigars a month (this is a cigar lounge after all). With that members can enjoy access to the lounge and its amenities (WiFi, espresso, etc.) as well as discounts on cigars, special members only deals and discounts, access to member’s only events, and reduced pricing on certain public events (such as a scotch pairing). Also members are allowed to bring a certain number of guests to smoke with them as well. We also have a Preferred Membership which offers a bigger discount, more guests, a private locker, and more.

 

MSI: What are some top name brands that you carry which some cigar aficionados of Kutztown and the surrounding area might be surprised to hear?

TF: We carry a few big names such as Drew Estate, Joya de Nicaragua, and La Flor Dominicana. We tend to focus more on boutique lines of cigars that are still owned by the people who founded them. Such companies include EPC, Pinar del Rio, Cuban Stock, and Jesus Fuego just to name a few.

 

MSI: How do you decide which cigars to stock? Are there certain characteristics to look for in a good cigar?

TF: I like to look for unique companies. If they aren’t owned by a huge tobacco conglomerate I find that the cigars end up being more unique in profile and characteristics. Something you can only get when a company is run by the people who truly have a passion for their product.

 

MSI: Cigars are often associated with celebratory experiences like a baby being born or daughter getting married. When are your most favorite times to smoke a cigar?

TF: Haha! Breakfast. I enjoy a Joya de Nicaragua Antano Dark Corojo with my morning espresso. While that may not be special enough of an occasion for some people, I see it as a triumph over the previous day. I’m still here, still kicking, and heck, its a great way to start your morning!

 

MSI: Do you plan on having any special events at your store in the near future besides the Grand Opening?

TF: Tons! We will be holding several events every month, some open to the public like a Chili Cook-off Competition with Drew Estate in December, but many others will be member centric, like blind tastings, pairings, and just general fun events.

 

MSI: What’s your favorite part of Kutztown, the community where your store resides, and why would you tell people to visit here if they’ve never been before?

TF: Oh, wow, my favorite part is the little waterfall on the Saucony Creek Trail. Relaxing and enjoying a cigar and coffee there has cleared my mind many times. Past that, its the unique businesses around town. I live and breath by the coffee roasted at Global Libations (I have never found an espresso as good and trust me I drink a lot of coffee). Frying Dutchman makes great and unique doughnuts and other baked goods… and many other places. The feel is not slow paced but not fast paced, its right in the middle… it is a great location for someone who likes to always be moving but never wants to slow down too much, if you get what I mean.

 

Photographs courtesy of KTL Cigar Lounge.

Relaxcation in Kutztown. No, That’s Not a Typo.

As Americans, we’re often ridiculed for not knowing how to relax. I could easily be classified under this stereotype every day of my life. Although I inherited many attributes from my European ancestors, who reign in this world as championed relaxers sometimes taking up to 25 vacation days a year, I am unable to grasp the Italian attitude toward free time.

Dark hair? Check. Olive skin? Check. Take a breather every once and a while? How do you do that?

What typically happens, and you may know the feeling, is even though I’m in a relaxing environment, away from my office and not discussing professional matters, my mind can’t seem to escape work or errands at home. As shameful as it is to admit, I find myself getting so tied up in the little things, life seems to be speeding on by. When I begin to look back at the big picture, everything has blurred together.

It’s almost like those clever photo mosaics that were big in the 90’s. My tiny photos would be glimpses into a weekend party, a music festival, or outdoor activities. But in this case, when they’re all put together, the big portrait is me working, cleaning, cooking, etc. Is this all too familiar for you as well? I hope not but if so, I might have found an easy solution.

I recently started to take notice of this more so than usual and discovered something rather peculiar. Of the occasions that I do feel most relaxed, work free and careless about where my mind wanders, 99% of those times occur in Kutztown. It might even be safe for me to say that they all occur in my pleasant home town, a location peacefully comprised of rolling farm hills and quiet streets.

Since I no longer reside in Kutztown, but do visit on a regular basis, I’ve come to appreciate more than ever the many offerings it has, including a haven for my wandering work thoughts. There are elements to the most agreeable town that play well together, as if by accident, to create a natural worry free environment that’s slow paced. Outsiders may translate that to mean boring and I respect their opinion but kindly ask for a re-survey. It’s that attitude of always needing “something to do” that led me down my thought-cluttered path in the first place.

Not to say there isn’t anything to do in Kutztown. There are unique events year round, one of a kind independent vendors on Main Street and ongoing activities with the University as well. However, sometimes the only thing you should be doing is nothing at all. That’s the beauty of Kutztown. It has the perfect balance of both so when you’re feeling antsy, you can get out and do but when you need peaceful time, free from everything including your thoughts, that’s also achievable in a multitude of places. Try the park, a local cafe or the Main Street Inn’s terrace?

You may be able to relate if you’ve ever gone on a vacation that involved an unofficial itinerary. Go here, go there. See that, see this. It’s more exhausting than it is relaxing. The solution? Vacation to Kutztown! Maybe you just chuckled but I’d recommend a reconsider. When that feeling of simplicity and relaxation finds you, I’m sure you won’t be laughing anymore. Just dishing out deeps sighs of relief.

 

Until Next Time,

Carefree Kutztownian 

 

Where Did All The Genuine Go?

The Fourth of July was smack dab in the middle of the week this year. For those of us who had to work, it almost didn’t feel like a holiday. We went about our usual routines, watching the clock in hopes that our evening plans would somehow arrive sooner than later. My particular plans involved a quick trip to the Kutztown Folk Festival followed by a party.

I decided to bring a cucumber and tomato salad made with dill and apple cider vinegar, a recipe that I slightly altered from the Manifest Vegan‘s new cookbook, Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats. Contrary to common belief, the book is awesome whether you’re gluten-free/vegan or not!

Anyway, as my mother Pam taught me, I prepared my salad fit to feed an army. This time the troops were present. However, those troops all brought food of their own. There were over 50 people and I only knew one so we awkwardly strolled in. After finding her familiar face and then finding a spot for my oversized bowl, I was able to get a “feel” for the new environment, new people and new sounds.

Turned out this was a legitimate block party (I may or may not have thought that was just a cool name for a hip, new party theme). It was two neighbors who asked the borough if they could shut down the street and have a joint party. Road blocks were acquired and the rest was history. Not just any July 4th history, though. This party took me way back. There was a nostalgic feeling floating amongst the different age groups, from 8 to 80. This comforting ambience blew past the table of Summer salads and the old aluminum webbed lawn chairs huddled together in the only remaining shade. It breezed through the lawn games of bocce and horse shoes, resting only upon the various lighthearted conversations when the live music stopped.

The best way to describe how surreal this party felt is by asking you to recall a distinct memory from childhood. This July 4th moment was weird because I knew it was one of those memories in the making. I knew that every young kid running around through the sprinkler and drinking Soda Pop would always remember it. I knew they would remember that particular moment forever because it was so genuine.

Then it got me thinking, genuinely great parties are few and far between anymore. Today there is always a catch, a theme, a gimmick that better intrigue people to come or you’ll be partying alone. I think we should get back to the old way. Throw a party to gather the people you love and have a good time; just to have a party.

The Main Street Inn has been working the “genuine” angle since opening and will continue to do so with our new events. We even know a few basic key ingredients that might help you do the same. Here they are!

Keep it Genuine, Keep it Kutztown

  1. Live music
    1. Don’t get wrapped up in the ever changing playlist scene. If you’re throwing a shin dig, try to find a local band or a friend of a friend who can play a few mellow tunes. Maybe even rock the “open music” night, welcoming any guests who know how to strum to bring their guitar.
  1. Lots of Food
    1. As far as the Corrado’s and The Main Street Inn are concerned, there is no such thing as too much food. For a big event, have everyone bring something or two things and if it doesn’t get finished they can take it home. Less work put on one person and less wasting! Take out boxes are a nice touch here to minimize waste as well!
  1. Casual Seating
    1. Don’t worry about all the chairs matching and each table being surrounded by the perfect amount of chairs. Space out your seating options and keep them casual, especially during a back yard Summer BBQ. Lay a blanket here, few lawn chairs there and voila, a naturally flowing event.
  1. Various Age Groups
    1. Different age groups bring different energies to the table. There is a certain chemistry from varying individuals that produces a genuine bond among company. From my point of view at events like this, the elders have the best stories and experience and the children are always happy.
  1. No Worries
    1. This ingredient to a genuine celebration almost contradicts all the previous ones. It in no way says that the Main Street Inn throws caution to the wind when planning an event. It’s more so a way of saying, we have the answer to everything. No matter what is lacking, there is a way to make it better and the world won’t end in doing so!

We capped the list off at 5 but some classic adult beverages are always welcome as well! There you have it. Get cracking at your genuine, yester-year party or call the Main Street Inn to start planning one with us!

 

Until Next Time,

Blast from the Past Partier