After more than 77 years of making guayaberas, the long-sleeved ones woven in Irish Linen that were the symbol of Cuban aristocracy and later graced movie stars, athletes and even presidents, La Casa de las Guayaberas will be closing.
NBC 6 reported that the iconic Southwest Eighth Street emporium said in a statement that financial burden from the novel coronavirus pandemic has led to the store’s closing.
“It is with deepest regret that we must close our store due to the current pandemic, the uncertain financial climate and the lack of government financial help, advice and direction,” the statement read.
Ramón Puig, locally known as the “King of Guayaberas” and “El mago de la guayabera,” opened his first guayabera store in Cuba in 1943, according to a history on the store’s website.
Legend has it that a Spanish immigrant who had traveled to Sancti Espiritus, Cuba, asked his wife “to make him a long-sleeve white linen shirt with four large pockets so that he could carry his cigars, writing instruments, handkerchief and otras cositas (other small things) during the course of his work day,” according to the store’s history.
The shirt became popular with Cuban guava farmers who would fill the pockets with guavas, thus christening the shirt “guayabera.”
Puig fled Fidel Castro’s Cuba in 1968, arriving in Miami with his wife, Juana Maria, and their 8-year old son, Louis, on a Freedom Flight, a U.S government program that led to more than a quarter of a million Cubans fleeing Castro to resettle in the States.
He opened his first Miami shop in 1971, next to Versailles on Southwest Eighth Street. He then moved the shop to its current location at 5840 SW Eighth St., a block west of Coral Gables.
He soon became known for the expert tailoring of his shirts, attracting an international clientele that read like a Who’s Who of entertainers, sports stars and world leaders. Topping the A list were Sylvester Stallone, Emilio and Gloria Estefan, Alex Rodriguez, Alonzo Mourning and almost every U.S. president from Ronald Reagan on.
In 1997, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce bestowed him with its Entrepreneur of the Year, according to the Miami Herald’s archive. He also had a portion of Eighth Street dedicated to him in 2006.
The store is holding a closing sale from July 27 until Aug. 2 both online and in-store.
“For the past 77 years, Ramon Puig Guayaberas has dressed U.S. presidents and world leaders, famous actors and performers, and our Latin community,” the statement read. “We would like to thank the millions of customers and friends worldwide who have supported us. It has been an incredible journey and we would not have made it this far without you.”
Miami Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago contributed to this report.