After 70 years in business, Joe’s Super Variety – formerly Joe’s Smoke Shop – closed its doors this week.

But it will be a relatively brief closing.

The store will be back, “bigger and better, improved and more efficient,” possibly by the middle of next year, said David Discatio, one of three brothers who run the landmark shop on Congress Street in the Longfellow Square neighborhood. The store has been around since 1945, when it was opened by the brothers’ grandfather Joe Discatio.

The brothers are in the process of removing inventory and getting the store ready for demolition, which will allow for the construction of a new apartment building on its spot. Going up on the property will be an eight-story building with 139 market-rate units, said Jonathan Culley, a partner with Redfern Properties, which is developing the $25 million project. Culley said units will probably rent for $1,000 a month for studios to roughly $1,900 for two-bedroom units, although the market could change during the 17 months of construction.

“This is a great location that has been transitioning over the past decade,” Culley said, noting that several top restaurants and bars have recently opened in the neighborhood.

When the brothers decided to partner with Culley, keeping the store as part of the new building was a key part of the agreement, David Discatio said. Plans call for a new Joe’s Variety to occupy a portion of the first floor.


“We have a lot of loyal customers,” he said. “A lot of people have been saying they’ll miss us.”

The store originally sold mostly cigars, cigarettes and other tobacco projects, Discatio said, but has added sandwiches, beer, wine, frozen food, milk, soft drinks and even a few health and beauty items over the years. The brothers decided to drop the “smoke shop” part of the name in 2014, waiting until after their grandfather had passed away to avoid upsetting him.

“We’re not a smoke shop, we’re a variety store,” Discatio said.

The store’s selections might have to be “tweaked” to appeal to its more upscale neighbors once the project is complete, but he expects most of the products will be the same. Discatio said the store’s design will be similar to what it is now, with a little more frontage on Congress Street.

Demolition is expected to begin in a couple of weeks, leaving Discatio and his brothers with something they haven’t had a lot of – time.

“I think the last time I had more than three days off in a row was probably five or six years ago,” said Discatio, 51. “I think I’ll travel a little bit and enjoy things.”


Discatio said his brother, Michael, 55, will also be back at the store when it reopens, while the other brother, Stephen, 53, will take some time to decide if he wants a change.

Regardless, the store will continue, Discatio said, and perhaps one day be run by the next generation of Discatios.

“My brothers and I still feel young and we want to stay active,” he said.


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