When businesses re-open in Montreal, cigar lovers are going to have one less place to buy their Cubans. The La Casa del Habano, located on Sherbrooke Street West, will be selling its last smoke on May 31.
In business for nearly 25 years, the 2,000-square-foot Casa opened its doors in 1996, providing the city of Montreal with almost every Cuban cigar brand, major and minor (save for Punch, which is not for sale legally in Canada due to a trademark issue).
Although Canada is one of the most expensive markets in the world to buy Cuban cigars, general manager Antonio Marsillo told Cigar Aficionado that business was steady.
“Business was actually not that bad,” he said. “Our lounge was regularly open and we had a good number of clients, both local and international.”
At this particular Casa, a Montecristo No. 2 retails for C$49.50 (about $35.50), and a Cohiba Siglo VI will cost you C$99 or about $70.
According to Marsillo, who has been the store’s general manager for nine years, he was not told the reason for closing. “The decision came from the board of directors in Cuba,” Marsillo said, adding that the decision to close was made in January, before the Covid-19 pandemic was a factor.
While Cuban monopoly Habanos S.A. boasts 155 La Casa del Habano retail locations in more than 118 cities worldwide, Canada seems to be a problematic market for the franchise. The Vancouver location closed years ago, the Toronto store closed at the end of 2019 and the La Casa del Habano in Windsor, Ontario, has been closed for nearly three years due to a fire from a neighboring building that destroyed the space in 2017. There are tentative plans for the Ontario Casa to re-open this summer.
Despite May 31 being the last official day, the Montreal Casa has already closed as a nonessential business due to the current Covid-19 city mandate. During this time of quarantine, sales are transacted online and orders can be mailed out or picked up curbside, but don’t expect any blowout sales on your favorite brands. Quebec does not permit discounts on cigars, and any unsold stock is going back to the region’s distributor, Havana House. The shop is, however, having a sale on cigar accessories and shaving products.
“There was never a proper goodbye,” Marsillo said ruefully. “We had scheduled four or five events with different clients and staff to celebrate the shop and its last few months, but all that got canceled. Quite sad actually that it all came to an end like this.”