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The Cherry Street Burns Tobacconist location in downtown Chattanooga closed its doors for good on Monday, according to owner Mike Hunter, who said he did not renew his lease.

Hunter said "business has been terrible. I've been thinking about not renewing for awhile."

The East Brainerd location will remain open, he said.

According to the statement on the cigar-venue's Facebook page: "Due to unfortunate circumstances, Burns Tobacconist Downtown will be closing it's doors for good. Monday, January 4th will be the last day of operation. The staff at Burns would like to thank all of our loyal downtown customers and hope to see you all at Burns East."

The current downtown location opened in 2013 after Chattanooga Billiard Club owner Phil Windham expanded to a larger space in what is known to locals as the Shapiro's Building, and introduced the Davidoff Lounge upstairs, only the third in the world at the time. Burns also has a patio and indoor space on Cherry Street downstairs.

The lounge was based on other such cigar-focused lounges around the country and offered different levels of membership, as well as amenities such as private lockers for storing cigars.

Windham said he is not certain what he will do with the space, and that he is not in a hurry to make any decisions about its future. Well-known locally both for his love of cigars and billiards, he is exploring some uses that might involve his other passion for online billiard challenge matches involving seniors, an underserved market, he believes.

"I just don't know yet, but you'd be surprised at how popular these online events are," he said.

Hunter said he hopes to open another downtown location, but only after the pandemic has run its course.

"I'm talking about when the mom-and-pop restaurants reopen," he said. "Not now."

Hunter bought the Burns east location in 2014, and the downtown one the following year. He leases both spaces from Windham. The two had a dispute in 2017-18 after two police officers were investigated for potentially illegally entering the East Brainerd Burns location without a warrant.

Hunter accused Windham at the time of telling the officers to enter the premises in retaliation for getting a beer license and taking business away from his CBC business located in the same complex, something Windham denied doing.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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