The History of the Tampa Cigar Industry

It’s important that we maintain the cigar heritage of Tampa. How did we get our name; Tabanero, do you ask? Well, a guy from Havana is a Habanero. I, Yanko Maceda, immigrated to America from Havana so I decided to name my business Tabanero! The cigar business in Tampa/Ybor City has changed over the years. There aren’t as many cigar manufacturers here in Tampa that their used to be. Today only a couple of large cigar manufacturers and a few boutique cigar manufacturers remain. Allow me to share some of our local cigar manufacturing history here in the Tampa bay.

Vicente Martinez-Ybor, originally from Spain immigrated to Cuba at age 14. He fell in love with the cigar industry and began his own cigar company. In 1856 Martinez Ybor founded his own company in Havana, Cuba and began manufacturing his El Principe de Gales ("Prince of Wales") brand. The brand quickly became popular, and Martinez Ybor's factory was soon producing 20,000 cigars a day. While focusing on his business he also focused his efforts on helping Cubans break away from Spain. This was not popular among Spain’s government. He was sentenced to death and quickly escaped to Key West. This is also where He moved his cigar production to. He was having a hard time keeping the rollers in Key West. A friend of his discovered Tampa, Florida and recommended that Martinez-Ybor move his production to Tampa. He purchased 40 acres from the city of tampa to begin his production. Vicente built the biggest cigar factory in the world in 1886. He believed that in order for the cigar industry to be successful that he needed to encourage others to get involved in manufacturing cigars. The industry grew quickly to 200 cigar factories in Ybor City which accounted for the production of 600 million cigars manufactured per year. This was truly the golden era for this industry. The depression of 1929 and the cigarette industry began the decline of the cigar industry. In 1962 the Cuban trade embargo had the largest and most significant impact on the cigar industry in Ybor City which caused nearly 200 of the original manufactures to close their doors.

Well over one hundred years later you can still feel the passion of the cigar industry here in Tampa, Florida. We at Tabanero believe we can bring back the heritage of cigars to Tampa and Ybor City. Thanks to the internet we are able to share our passion for the Ybor City cigar industry with people all across the world not just here in the Tampa Bay area.

So why did we choose Tampa? Believe it or not, in Cuba the lectures still educate and inspire the rollers using stories about the Cigar industry in Tampa, Fl. Back during the Golden Era, Cuban rollers always dreamed of moving to Tampa to work for 1 of the 200 factories right here in Ybor City. Today, when Cuban rollers visit Tampa they quickly realize that much of the cigar industry has come to pass with only a few cigar companies remaining trying to keep the heritage alive. This is one of the reasons to move your boutique business to Tampa. There is a great opportunity to hire many of the Cuban rollers who have moved to Tampa hoping to live out their dream of rolling cigars here in Tampa, Fl.

Tabanero is here, in the heart of Ybor City with the goal of reviving the cigar industry that was once so vibrant. We believe that with some of the finest tobacco available from our local supplier, Oliva Tobacco Company and the amazing local Cuban artisan rollers rolling our fine blend of tobacco we can help restore the wonderful cigar heritage of Tampa and Ybor City.