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New Owners of Tobacco Shop in Downtown Hartford Say Store will Reopen May 9

Janice Podsada

May 03, 2011

After 91 years, The Tobacco Shop in downtown Hartford was about to close this spring.

Shop owner Jim DeLisle said he couldn't afford a rent increase imposed by the building's owner, and potential buyers seemed as scarce as a genuine Cuban cigar. But four former patrons purchased the shop and are moving the business to 89 Pratt St., a 2,000-square-foot retail space that was formerly a shoe store.

The Tobacco Shop will reopen May 9, if not sooner, said one of the new owners, who asked not to be identified. He would not disclose how much he and his three partners paid for the business. The owners are putting the finishing touches on the store this week.

The former shop was on the ground floor of the parking garage behind 777 Main St. The building's anchor tenant, the Bank of America, moved out last month. The Tobacco Shop was one of several stores, including a cutlery store and a hair salon, forced to close or move after the building's owner, Grunberg Management LLC, raised rents. With the Bank of America's departure, Grunberg had said it could not afford to maintain the stores' low-market rents.

Familiar fixtures and familiar faces will grace the Tobacco Shop's new location, the new owners say.

Todd Bissonette, the former shop's sole employee, has been retained as the store's general manager. And many of the store's antique fixtures, including the walk-in humidor and floor ashtrays, will be in place at the new store. Patrons also will be able to cozy up to one of the new store's ashtrays and enjoy a cigar.

The store hours will be Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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