Kenny Patel, the manager of the place, thinks the store is mostly known for its alluring and eclectic brand of mixing it up. From Quick Draw to GQ to primo cigars, he thinks that the community embraces the different items they can get at the place.
And he should know.
Patel has been managing the mart for 18 years, and it was something he always wanted to do ever since his uncle got involved in the business 35 years ago. Now he lives on Union Turnpike with his family and works at the store just about every day.
It’s something he enjoys doing, the type of work that he always wanted to be a part of because he enjoys working with the locals.
“I like the people and I like the neighborhood,” he says of Maspeth and its residents.
While we chat across the counter he seems sort of tight-lipped until we go to the back section of the store where the cigars and drinks are located.
As he walks to the transparent doors, marked with a wood-laced trim, he begins talking more.
“I think people know us for the cigars,” he says. “We have a lot of good ones that people always come in for.”
It smells fragrant as soon as he cracks open the doors. He scours a few rows of cigars, delicately sifting through a few small boxes before picking up a Kuba Acid cigar. He hands it over to me.
It’s short and thick with a blue seal.
“This is a good one,” he says, smelling it and then handing it over.
“You smoke these?”
He shakes his head no.
“I work with these so I know which are good because the people in this neighborhood always tell you what’s good and what’s not so good,” he explains. “The people make me know this stuff, and they are why I still do this."