Real Estate

This 102-year-old downtown NYC staple has closed — after an alleged rent dispute

The fire is out at this beloved Manhattan smoke shop.?

The Greenwich Village’s historic Village Cigars — a neighborhood institution, recognizable for its red signage and triangular building sandwiched between the Christopher Street 1 station entrances — has, after over a century in business, closed.?

And in a very New York situation, it appears to be due to a rent dispute.

Although a shock to many, the writing had been lightly on the wall for some time. The 373-square-foot wedge of a property (which also includes New York City’s smallest piece of privately owned property, the Hess Spite triangle) hit the market for $5.5 million back in 2021, and Village Cigars allegedly “stopped paying rent last summer,” owner Jon Posner told Curbed, which first reported the closure.

“You can imagine that’s quite painful,” Posner went on, explaining that the building — which he clarified is not currently for sale — only has one tenant.

The cigar shop is part of a property that includes the tiny triangular slab in front of it known as the Hess Triangle. Doug Meszler / Splash News
The shop in 2020. It reportedly first opened as a cigar store in 1922. Getty Images
The shop in 1961, when it was named United Cigars. Universal Images Group via Getty Images
The store’s manager, Nehad Ahmed, selling wares from behind a plastic sheet in 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic. NY Post

(The Hess Triangle, which was sold to the cigar store’s owners back in the 1930s, for $100, the equivalent of $1,781 today, does not, perhaps unsurprisingly, collect any rent.)

Andy Singh, who has owned both Village Cigars and the neighboring bodega, Andy’s Deli, for 26 years, says for his part he did not stop paying rent — and that the store’s end came as a result of a lease disagreement.?

The city’s refusal to approve his tobacco license application did not help the situation. 

The old-school Seventh Avenue retailer’s end still took even its loyalist shoppers by surprise. Many found out the hard way after coming to shop earlier this month only to find the doors locked, the shelves empty.?

“This is very disturbing,” Sean, a 53-year-old regular since 1998, told Curbed. “I didn’t even know they were closing.”

This closure comes on the heels of multiple other stalwart city businesses shuttering at the beginning of the year. They include Ridgewood’s 70-year-old Morscher’s Pork Store, Greenpoint’s 44-year-old dive bar Irene’s Place and the East Village’s 37-year-old watering hole 尝耻肠测’蝉.

“It’s definitely going to be weird,” 21-year-old Sebastian Rosthal, who grew up on Village Cigars’ block, told Curbed of the shop’s closure, especially on the heels of Fat Cat bar, another Christopher Street landmark that shut several years ago. “They created the neighborhood’s whole personality.”

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