Restaurant on Christopher Street Flaunts Odd Gimmick in Window


What’s the guy doing in the window of Havana Alma de Cuba?

Havana Alma de Cuba (Havana Soul of Cuba) is a four-year-old restaurant with a rather odd gimmick: A guy sits in the window rolling cigars. The cigars are for sale, but you can’t smoke them in the restaurant.

I’ve seen restaurants where women made tortillas in the window, and restaurants that tried to lure you in with half-clad waitresses or attention-grabbing graphics. But I’ve never thought of cigars being rolled as an inducement for fine dining. Of course, Cuba is famous for its cigars, but nobody seeing that guy rolling is going to think the result is anything like the quality one finds in Cuba.

I guess the idea is that you have dinner, buy a postprandial smoke, and then walk down the street afterward enjoying it.

Other than that, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about the restaurant, which has three dining rooms, and serves Cuban standards like ropa vieja and lechon asado. Many years ago it was a famous West Village spot called Pot Belly Stove. And, yes, there was a stove in the restaurant that you could see through the window — an altogether more appealing gimmick.

Havana Alma de Cuba
94 Christopher Street