Meet the Village: Jonny Cohen of 8th St. Wine Cellar

Meet the Village

In this edition of Meet the Village, we caught up with Jonny Cohen of 8th St. Wine Cellar, one of the best spots to discover new wines and enjoy great times in Greenwich Village. Dive into our interview below!

What’s your name and where do you work? 

JC: I’m Jonny Cohen, I work at 8th Street Wine Cellar here in Greenwich Village. 

And how long have you been here in Greenwich Village?

I would say 2006. So about 17 years. My partner and I actually physically built the place. Everything that you see, we hammered, we tiled, we did everything. 

What do you like most about your work?

What I love best about what I do here at Wine Cellar is the pleasure that we give people through the education of wines and bringing something different. We pride ourselves on our service. It’s a great time, with great food and wine, and great people. 

Do you have a favorite Villager, living or dead?

I would say my favorite villager would be the sculptor James Earl Frazier, who designed the Buffalo Nickel right here in this very building. This building and 3 MacDougal Alley used to be connected, and a lot of artists, writers, and poets used to be down here, and in the alley there used to be stables. Then they converted them all into housing for artists, poets, writers, all kinds of stuff. There’s a lot of history in this area. 

On a similar note, do you have a fun fact, personal or about the area? 

This is the only block in New York City that’s called West 8th Street— it’s Greenwich up there, and then it’s East 8th over there. This used to be known for shoe stores, and literally every single storefront was a shoe store, and they were all owned by three different guys. So, if you didn’t like the price at one store, you could go down to the next store down and they’d give it to you $10 off—but it’s the same guy making the money. 

Then, in the mid-2000s, those stores started to go out of business and the landlords decided to make [West 8th] a kind of food court and beautify the place, much like Bleecker Street had done. We were the first mover in that direction, we were the first bar/restaurant here. I love the transitory nature of the businesses in the Village and in its people. And how you can get here from anywhere in the city. Everywhere stops right here. 

Personal fun fact: I have been in the restaurant service industry— all parts of the industry—my entire life. But I’m also a cartoonist, and my biggest success is about 8 to 12 cartoons in the New Yorker, and Reader’s Digest, and various books and calendars. I still do that a lot.

Where do you go for a cup of coffee in the village? Or just your favorite spot to enjoy some time to yourself? 

Other than here I go directly across the street to Loring Place to Chef Dan Kluger’s joint. I sit at the bar and enjoy a nice, quiet time. I just had a working lunch there yesterday. Just myself and my computer. Wonderful chicken salad there, and their turkey burger is fantastic too. 

That’s where I go. I’m pretty close here, but I’m totally away over there where nobody can find me. 

Thanks for reading this edition of Meet the Village! Stay tuned for future merchant highlights and stories from the team at Village Alliance.