Gregory Mottola archive
Posted: Nov 20, 2012 12:00am ET
Confession: Until this past weekend, I'd never been to Tampa or Ybor City before. I know, I know, for a cigar smoker it's a shame, but for an editor at Cigar Aficionado, it's closer to a disgrace. I admit it. That's why when I heard that the Fuente family was restoring their historical old red brick factory in Ybor over on North 22nd Street, I hopped on the first flight straight to Tampa and arrived in time for the dedication and cocktail party. Now when many people talk about building "restoration," the project is often a half-hearted attempt that employs unqualified contractors who bid at the lowest price, use standard-quality materials and have no real understanding of period-construction or architecture. I've seen substandard "restoration" too many times-sculpted plaster ceilings covered by drop panels, mosaics ignominiously troweled over, Carrera marble replaced with cheap composites-my rant could fill a book. But this entry isn't about unskilled labor. It's about what Carlos "Carlito" Fuente Jr. has done to an old red-brick cigar factory and how his commitment pays tribute to the history of Ybor City.