Interview: Frank Llaneza of Villazon
A discussion with the president of Villazon & Co., makers of Hoyo de Monterrey and Punch.
From the Print Edition:
John Travolta, Jan/Feb 99
(continued from page 4)
Llaneza: The only brands that we had in the early 1950s were Villazon and Villa de Cuba. And we had the Bustillo and Jose Arango brands, too, because we had taken over those companies. Just before the embargo started, we also acquired Preferred Havana, through which we got Bances and Eden, which was a big brand back then. Bances was almost dead, but we developed it.
CA: How did you acquire Bances?
Llaneza: It came with the Preferred Havana purchase. They had Bances, Eden, Calixto Lopez and Flor de Allones.
CA: What year did you buy Preferred Havana?
Llaneza: We bought it around 1956.
CA: How soon after that did you then begin to develop Bances?
Llaneza: Danny Blumenthal already had his store on Broadway in New York. We started the brand with him. He had an exclusive distribution deal for Bances in New York. But he was doing sub-jobbing on Bances out of his store, too. That's how it became bigger.
CA: Was it a hand-rolled, long-filler, natural-wrappered cigar?
Llaneza: Yes. But made in Tampa. That's how the company existed until we finally got the Palicio brands in the 1960s.
CA: When did you meet Danny?
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