On March 16th The Washington Post published an article written by Jason Wilson, “For Ybor City in Florida, a Historic Cigar Town Faces a Cloudy Future.” We are going to expound upon the discussion he raised concerning our town and our craft. Jason recognized that we are doing something wonderfully unique in Tampa. “Every minute of every day in Ybor City is a good time for a cigar. in Ybor City, it seems as if — whether perversely or refreshingly — one enters a parallel universe where smoking cigars is still a totally natural part of life.” This parallel universe, as Jason stated, is the rebirth an industry that was as culturally rich as the soil that produce the savory cigars that made Tampa the envy of the globe. Every renaissance is both the reclamation of the nostalgia of the past and the embrace of the hope of future prospects. As we at Tabanero Cigars dedicate ourselves to this rebirth of Tampa as the cigar capitol, we harken to the past voices.
“Vicente Martinez Ybor created modern Tampa out of a marshy backwater, and the population grew from about 700 in 1880 to more than 37,000 residents in 1910. The best cigar rollers left Cuba for Tampa by the thousands. Ybor brought an expanded port, paved roads, hundreds of new homes and businesses, streetcars, insurance companies and health clinics. In the early 20th century, Tampa had been the undisputed cigar capital of the world, out producing even Havana. In its heyday, the city had more than 150 factories, employing about 10,000 workers and rolling more than 500 million cigars each year. Now, beyond the small storefront producers still rolling premium handmade cigars, only one large cigar factory remains.”
Jason has correctly identified the nature of the past cigar industry as well as the challenge of the present. Will Ybor have the large cigar factories that once were the pillars of the industry? Not likely. However, that is not even part of the vision for renaissance that Tabanero Cigars is helping to forge. We believe that the new cigar industry will be a network of cigar boutiques known for the quality of hand-made cigars and not for the quantity. A similar model might be the growth of ‘craft beer’ as opposed to mass produced beer.
As more people begin to catch the vision for this nascent artisan boutique in Ybor than we will all see something beautiful blossom in Tampa.