There’s a fresh wind blowing in the legendary Cava de Magallanes. The tobacco shop was Madrid’s first store that had an extra room for cigars controlling humidity and temperature. José Martínez Franco, owner since 1968, is retiring after 50 years in the tobacco business and passing on the torch to a young entrepreneur who has new ideas for well-known tastes: Pablo Montorio. “We’ve renovated the Cava and created more room,” Montorio explains to us. “And we’re going to change the name to Bohío [Span. for hut/small house] de Magallanes. It is now, after all, a tobacco house, a curing barn.” The entrance to the new, expanded Cava, now 90 square meters with a large showroom, is through the magnificent facade of a curing barn.
Pablo has new ideas and a great desire to try new things. One could say that a new Magellan (the store is named after Calle de Magallanes), the captain of the first expedition that circumnavigated the world for the first time, in 1522, has arrived on a rather mature Spanish cigar market. In the tobacco store’s display window, there’s even the inscription, “Primus circumdedisti me” (“You were the first to encircle me”), the triumphal motto of that expedition.
As a new promotional idea, Pablo Montorio is offering every brand that they can “occupy their own ex- hibition space within the Cava, upon request.” And, last but not least, as a high point, cigars that make it into the top 10 in international magazines, among them also Cigar Journal, and are represented on the Spanish market, will have special spaces reserved. José Martínez Franco, known in Spain as “Pepe Magallanes,” is passing on the torch. He was the first one to “circumnavigate” and discover the topic of tobacco altogether. But Pepe isn’t going to disappear. He will remain part of the store. For, as the author Thomas Mann said at the beginning of his exile in Switzerland: “Wherever I am, Germany is.” And, wherever Pepe is, tobacco is there, too.
This article was published in the Cigar Journal Spring Edition 2018. Read more