|City/Town: • Tampa|
|Location Class: • Industrial|
|Built: • 1914 | Abandoned: • 1982|
|Status: • Abandoned|
|Photojournalist: • David Bulit|
The Perfecto Garcia Brothers cigar company was established in Ybor City in 1905 by four Garcia Brothers; Angel, Jose, Manuel, and of course, Perfecto. They used Cuban tobacco that was grown on their family-owned farms and rolled the cigars in Ybor City. They also owned over fifteen cigar shops in Chicago, where most of their marketing was aimed at. Eventually, one brother moved back to Spain, two others remained in Chicago to run the shops, and Perfecto ran the factory in Ybor City. Along with Bering cigars and Garcia y Vega, Perfecto Garcia was considered one of the highest grade cigars made at that time. The first wooden factory was destroyed due to a large fire in Ybor City. The current brick building was built in 1914, with three floors plus a basement for a total of 44,000 sq. ft. The office addition on the east side of the building was added on in the 1950s.
Oliva Tobacco Company supplied them with Cuban tobacco which was stored in the basement. The Perfecto Garcia company claimed to make cigars in 65 different sizes. At its peak, Perfecto Garcia Brothers employed 1,200 people and the cigars were rolled by hand. In the 1960s, Julio Eiroa worked at this factory. Julio would later found the Caribe Imported Cigars company in Miami which bought out Camacho cigars in 1995.
Due to the Cuban Embargo during that time, Perfecto Garcia’s Cuban tobacco inventory dwindled and like many other cigar companies in Ybor, they looked to sell their businesses. Perfecto Garcia was sold to Havano Cigar Corp. who brought in machines to roll the cigars at an average of 60,000 per day. United States Tobacco, a Greenwich, CT-based company, bought Perfecto Garcia from Havano Cigar Corp in 1981 and renamed the company Central American Cigar Co. They ceased operations in Ybor City the following year in June 1982, and it quickly became apparent that it was purchased solely for the brand name. Company officials cited the decline in cigar sales and the economy as their reasons for closing. They also stated that operations were being consolidated into a modern factory located in Yoe, Pennsylvania.
In 1999, Arango Cigar Co., of Northbrook, Illinois, announced that they were the new importer and sole distributor of Perfecto Garcia premium cigars, now manufactured in Nicaragua and once again, hand-made. Since its closure, the factory has changed hands numerous times. One owner was a man from Clearwater who envisioned turning the top floor into a luxurious bachelor pad. He sold the building in 2002 to Perfecto Garcia LLC of Hilton Head, South Carolina, but unfortunately whatever plans they had for the building never came to fruition as the economy crashed. The property was last sold in February 2019 for approximately $2.1 million. The new owners have made plans to renovate the derelict building into a co-op space, such as the Tampa Armature Works.