In honor of pre-Revolutionary Cuba, we examine Havana-related brand names
HAVANA – We all have nostalgia for pre-Castro Cuba, and this is the year to remember what was, especially as Jan 1 is the 50th anniversary of when Fidel Castro declared victory over‘s government.
We can look back on some of the great Cuban brands associated with Havana. To get there, we would have had to take a steamship from the Spanish Line, Saguenay Shipping Ltd, West Indian Fruit & Steamship Co., Inc. or the S.S. City of Havana, which ferried cars between Havana and Stock Island, Florida.
If we were flying, we could have taken:
- Q Airways from West Palm to Isle of Pines on a DC-4.
- Guest Airlines, flying DC-3s and Viscounts
- Cubana Airlines, with their Viscounts and Britannias
- Pan American World Airways, from Miami, flying DC-7Bs, DC-6Bs and DC-7cs
- Bacardi rum
- Matusalem (also known as Matusa) rum
- Top cigar brands included Monte Christo (#4 was best), H. Upmann, Romeo y Julieta, Hoyo de Monterrey, Larranaga and Partagas
Hotel Brand Names
- Nacional: The grand hotel of Havana
- The Hilton, (Habana Libre), at the revolution a new luxury hotel. This Hilton was known for its Sugar Bar on the roof. Fidel was known to hang out there. Commie dictators always love the fancy new Western places, don’t they!
- Floridita: The most famous restaurant and home of the frozen daiquiri, reputedly the best in the world, and the mulata, made with different dark rums. Pompano baked in a bag was a specialty too.
- Trader Vic’s: Yes, there was a Trader Vic’s in the Hilton.
- La Roca: This was a business lunch spot favored by Americans.
- Tally-Ho: French food in English decor.
- Prilla’s: Cuban society spot
- La Rue 19: Another French spot
- Mes Amis: Frenchy but with American customers, with host Tony Gorrodi, who was the pianist
- El Carmelo: Open air terrace dining
- El Palacio De Cristal: Western food
- La Zaragozana: Established in 1830, known for rabbit and Galacian stew
- La Bodeguita Del Medio: A bohemian restaurant, with walls covered in celeb photos
- Churley’s Louisiana: American gathering spot with hot fudge sundaes.
- Sloppy Joe’s: The famous bar/spot at Zulueta and Animas.
- The Yank: An American owned steak house on the road near Arroyo Arenas.
- Tropicana: The government took it over; it was an old Spanish mansion with two shows each night
- Hotel nightclubs included the Casino Parisien, Caribe Room, Copa Room and Casino.
- Bambu Club: aCuban nightclub.
- Mambo: Known for “unescorted” women who would ”retire with you to a back room.”
- Shanghai Theater: a burlesque closed by the Castro regime.
Retail Brand Bames
- El Encanto, at Galiano and San Rafael Streets, a giant department store
- Fin dee Siglo, another chic department store
- Woolworth’s: Yes, there was a Woolworth’s.