RYE, N.Y. – After a tumultuous few years battling threats of being shut down, the Rye Smoke Shop is still operating without a lease.
The famed storefront at 53 Purchase St. has been a Rye institution for decades, operating at the same location since 1947. “We’re here on a month-to-month basis,” said Tony D’Onofrio, who owns the store with his mother Peggy.
Town officials and the community worked to save the purveyor of candy, lottery tickets and various tobacco goods, even adding a special section to a zoning law last year .
"It’s an iconic store in Rye," says Claudia Baker, owner of All Paws, 31 Purchase St. "When the landlord wanted to tear the Rye Smoke Shop down, the town's people were up in arms."
In spite of all efforts to secure the shop’s survival, the owners haven’t had a lease for the past three and a half years.
The building’s landlord, John Ferrari, wants to renovate the building but must first fix a step going into the storefront that is not in compliance with the federal American With Disabilities Act before he can do anything else. He has approval to move forward, according to D’Onofrio.
"Exactly when this will happen is anyone's guess for now," D’Onofrio says.