Power outage snuffs out the lights at cigar shop

Several Witherspoon Street shops left in the dark for two days.

By: Jennifer Potash
   A Little Taste of Cuba, the Witherpsoon Street cigar shop, had an unwelcome sample of what merchandising must have been like in the 19th century after the store’s power was knocked out Tuesday and Wednesday.
   An underground power cable broke around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, cutting power to the cigar shop as well as several other businesses along Witherspoon Street.
   Power was finally restored around 6 p.m. Wednesday.
   Jorge Armenteros, owner of A Little Taste of Cuba, said he managed to stay open with the help of candlelight.
   "With all the snow, we need to stay open," Mr. Armenteros said. "I guess this is what is was really like a couple of centuries ago."
   The lengthy outage had him worried about how to preserve the warm and humid conditions needed to keep the cigars fresh.
   "We’re misting them with warm water so they stay humid," Mr. Armenteros said prior to the restoration of electricity.
   Chris Lenzo, manager of A Little Taste of Cuba, said cigars should be maintained at 70 percent humidity and at 70 degrees.
   But crisper temperatures did not stop the store’s faithful from enjoying a good cigar, Mr. Lenzo said.
   "The regular lunch crowd came in today with blankets," Mr. Lenzo said.
   Initial reports Mr. Lenzo said he received Tuesday from Public Service Electric & Gas Co. indicated the service would be restored before midnight. By Wednesday morning, restoration was estimated by 1 p.m., Mr. Lenzo said.
   Renee DiNardi, a spokeswoman for PSE&G, said the repair job was more complicated than the technicians expected.
   The plastic conduits protecting the cable were cracked in several places, and the repair crew did not discover the problem until the installation of the new cable was under way, Ms. DiNardi said.
   "It was a very troublesome job," she said.
   Reached by phone late Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Armenteros said he was pleased the power would soon be restored to the cigar store and the other businesses.
   "My little cigars need to get back to good health," he said.
   The power outage also affected Ichiban and The UPS Store.