Kadee & Karl Malone Interview
Cigar Press – Kadee, you and your dad started Legends Cigars and Vape.
Kadee Malone – We started that a couple of years ago.
CP – So what came first, the cigar or the lounge?
Kadee – The cigar came first. But the lounge has always been my dad’s dream for the last twenty-five years. We finally had the chance to put it where we wanted it to be. It just so happened that the lounge and the cigar happened at the same time.
CP – How is it working with your dad?
Kadee – It’s really good. He allows me to do everything regarding the lounge. We have a 50/50 partnership but of course I like to say it’s a 90/10 because he likes to come and just hang out where I’m more of the mastermind behind it. I have to do all the paperwork, order all the cigars, everything like that. My dad and I have somewhat similar personalities so it’s not like we’re completely two different people thinking crazy ideas. We actually feed off of each other. We haven’t had any really big disagreements about the business so it’s been good so far.
CP – We were really surprised at how incredible the lounge is. It’s really a comfortable place to hang out and enjoy a cigar. The patio is fantastic too.
Kadee – I spend more time here at the lounge than I do my own house, it’s great.
CP – How do you enjoy the Barrel Aged by Karl Malone?
Kadee – I love the cigar. It’s a smooth cigar. People can be a little intimidated by it. It’s medium to full range but to me, it’s more of a mild-medium. It’s weird how that works. The whole family was actually part of the cigar project. We were there when we designed the boxes, the labels, everything. Right now I am the head person to contact regarding the cigar sales. We’re partnered with Miami Cigars for the distribution. What’s really great about this cigar is that we had originally talked with La Aurora about putting the “Legends” name on the boxes (before Legends Lounge came about). It all comes together with the lounge and cigar.
CP – Who helped in the blending and making of the actual cigar?
Kadee – My dad had to try so many different cigars. He had all of these different with plain, numbered bands on them. He just kept going back to that specific cigar. But it was like a three year process. Mr. León (Guillermo), Gustavo (Velayos Marugán), Manuel (Inoa) and all of La Aurora took us in like family. They allowed us to do all of it throughout the last three years. People may think that it just spontaneously happened but it took a long time for us to get where we are right now.
CP – Do you still get to travel down to the Dominican Republic?
Kadee – Yes. I’ve been down there about six times so far and my parents more. We just got back not long ago. We finally finished everything up. The cigar will be out spring of this year. As of now people will be able to place orders.
CP – We saw that your dad was now involved with Barcelo liquor company, do you have any part in that?
Kadee – I’m like a middle man of that. My dad still has a flip phone and doesn’t have email. So I’m the one that handles emails and relays messages to my dad. A guy that we partnered with, Tim Basham, actually is the one that is the head of the rum side, but of course the rum and cigar coincide so we work together in everything.
CP – How does the cigar go with the rum?
Kadee – It is the best. I’m not trying to be biased or anything but I feel like the cigar and the rum are the best pairing on the market so far.
CP – A lot of times a great pairing makes the difference between a memorable experience and a normal one. One enhances the other. Do you guys plan on opening more Legends locations?
Kadee – Eventually I want to make it into franchise. We’ve already thought about where we could put them. It’s not 100% for sure but at the same time I want it to be a franchise. I want to stay away from the sports bar type of atmosphere. When you smoke a cigar you want to get to know the person you are sharing a cigar with instead of the news or whatever game is on. We want people to sit there and get to know each other, which is my vision with Legends, get people off of their phones and bond.
CP – Kadee, when did you get into cigars?
Kadee – I was always kind of interested in cigars. My dad started smoking cigars around us about five or six years ago. I tried one, one day, and I’ve liked them ever since. That was probably three to four years ago.
CP – Karl, when did you start enjoying cigars?
Karl Malone – Oh you’re gonna make me tell on myself in front of my daughter. Hey look, I was 26 years old when I had my first cigar, in Miami. It was a Montecristo. Of course that was the brand they were pushing back then so I tried it. I’ve always had a passion for cigars. Cigar smoking is really a fellowship. If you want to talk about sports, then you talk about sports. But it’s a fellowship and every time I light a cigar up, it’s a happen’n. I have a whole different ritual with my cigar. It’s respecting where it came from.
CP – How is it, working with La Aurora?
Karl – We have an amazing family relationship with La Aurora. To see that process, which I don’t think anyone can comprehend without seeing it. I would absolutely love to be a tour guide and show them the different processes. You see men doing the heavy lifting, the ladies are putting on the final touches with the cap and doing the wrapper because their hands are more delicate… and of course I give you guys credit, there are things you do a whole lot better than us men. That’s why with Legends, it is not a sports lounge or sports bar. That’s how everyone is gonna perceive it. We got one TV in here for a reason. Cigar etiquette and cigar smoking, you meet everybody. It’s the one common denominator. It don’t matter how much money you got, where you from, it’s all the same for everybody. If you want to be a millionaire smoking your cigar, you’re a millionaire. You want to be a thousandaire it don’t really matter. It’s more about the fellowship and the respect to where it came from. I just want to say I’m so proud of my daughter. She has really gone all in. She’s the owner, I’m like the quiet one, meaning that I’m not really quiet I just don’t make a lot of decisions on this. That’s what I’m saying.
CP – How did you and La Aurora hook up for the Barrel Aged by Karl Malone?
Karl – We have some friends that introduced us to them. We went to Procigar a couple years ago. I would never play poker with Mr. (Guillermo) León. He has got the most unbelievable poker face. I think I eventually broke the ice with him. He was looking straight ahead with a stoic look on his face. He was lighting his cigar and had this whole ritual going. I didn’t even know if he was paying attention to me or not but I said, “Mr. León I’ve got a problem. When I get a Cigar Aficionado magazine and look at all the top rated cigars, why do 50-67% of them always have something to do with the Dominican Republic?” After I said that, he kinda sat up in his chair and looked at me. I thought to myself, oh shit, I’ve said something wrong. But he had this look that was like, tell me more. He finished lighting up his cigar. If that wasn’t a scene out of godfather I don’t know what is. That’s how the whole thing started. The entire journey, and the whole process that happened I wouldn’t change it at all. It took two or three times of going to the Dominican before they really accepted us. I thought you could just show up in a tobacco field whenever you wanted. I didn’t know it was kinda taboo that you don’t. It wasn’t until our third or fourth time before they took us to the tobacco fields. That whole journey is a story that we love telling. The whole family was involved from start to finish. To be able to have a family relationship like that with La Aurora isn’t something I take lightly. It’s really just amazing.
CP – They are great people down there. You are also doing the rum distribution for Barcélo. Do you have the same kind of passion for rum that you do for cigars?
Karl – Absolutely. When that whole process started, we were in the Dominican. I had never been a dark liquor drinker. Of course with the cigars, they (La Aurora) pair it with rum. So we started bringing rum home and letting our friends sample it. Low and behold, fast forward when Gustavo and Manuel from La Aurora came to our grand opening of Legends, the next morning I asked Gustavo what it would take for us to become the exclusive distributor of the rum to the states. He said “Done.” I said, “Say what?” and he said yeah. I was on pause, it was a shock! Now we were the exclusive distributor of the La Aurora rum in the United States. I had been working with a guy named Tim (Basham) that had experience in the wine and spirits world. So we created an importing company. We are doing something with the Legends at the Allstar game in North Carolina this year. I really got to know Tim well and it’s going to be an amazing experience. It’s gonna be a lot of work, but the main thing is that we don’t have to speed the process up because we’re the only distributor in the entire United States. It’s amazing to us. It doesn’t seem real. It’s gonna be amazing.
CP – You are the face of it as well, not just the distributor?
Karl – Yes definitely. We’re really excited about launching rum and maybe working with La Aurora to create a rum at a lower price point. I will promise you this, I’m sure Kadee will have her fingers all over it. We don’t have to worry about that.
CP – The Legends lounge is really cool.
Karl – Kadee and her mom, my wife, Kay really put their touches in it. We like the rustic part of it. Our whole goal is that whenever you walk through that door, you feel like you were in your favorite place. We have had people come in just to sit. I can’t explain it. I’m big into Native American history and you can tell that the place has a spirit about it and a relaxing feeling. That was our goal and we captured that. Everyone that comes through here, has the same reaction, “Wow.” On the outside it just looks like a nice clean building. But when they walk in they can’t believe it. It’s a process and it’s been amazing. We’ve done it the right way so that everybody who walks in has that reaction and will say “Damn, we still in Louisiana?”
CP – It’s nice to see that there aren’t TVs covering all the wall space.
Karl – I know me. If there is something bad going on in the world and it’s on the TV that’s the only conversation that we’re going to have. Whether we like them or don’t like them the only conversation that will be going on is regarding whatever is on the TV. If you don’t have TVs every 5 inches, now you gotta get to know each other. Now you have to talk to each other. There is a cigar smoking etiquette, it’s a respect and it’s a happen’n. When I light up my cigar and take that first puff, all the worries are left behind. I won’t light up unless I have the time to enjoy what I’m smoking.
CP – It’s nice to see the family ties and working together, cigars tend to be that way.
Karl – I just want to say I’m so proud of Kadee. I’m just really proud. Everyone comes to me and asks if I can do this or do that. I’ll say yeah. But gotta call Kadee to check. I’ve been known to over talk myself and put the cart before the horse. I would never do that intentionally. I placed the first order for the humidor in our lounge. But everything since that has been Kadee. So when I walk into the humidor, it’s amazing because it’s got her footprint all over it. The staff, which she trained, is amazing. It’s really like you’re walking into your home when you walk into Legends. She knocked it out of the park. I’m proud of her as a young lady. I’m proud for what she’s doing.
Kadee – I’m appreciative of everything we’ve been able to do and am very grateful for what he’s done for me so far.
Karl – It’s kind of an unwritten rule that I don’t bother my daughters before ten o’clock in the morning. I think they sharpen their claws in the morning time so I don’t bother them. It was about 9:15 am and I text her. I said to meet me at 9:30. So by 10:30 when she met me and she had this look about her. I said congratulations, you are 50% owner of Legends. Her mouth just dropped. I got away with it that one time, but I don’t normally mess with them in the morning. She gave me the biggest hug.
CP – We learned to not mess with you in the morning after a long night celebrating the Legends grand opening.
Karl – hey, hey hey now. Hey look here, look here. I was hurting for two or three days, I’m serious.
CP – It was a great night that’s for sure. So you’ll be working with Miami Cigar Company to distribute the Barrel Aged by Karl Malone.
Karl – We are so excited and honored that Miami Cigar is going to be our distributor in the states, with Mr. Nestor (Miranda) and the whole team. We’re looking forward to doing some great things with them.