Friday, July 19, 2024

Mike’s Monster Guitar is closed permanently Monday in Cambridge. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Mike’s Monster Guitar closed its doors Monday after more than a decade in business in Cambridge. In his retirement announcement, owner Mike Feudale said he spent “30 years contained in these same four walls,” since before opening Mike’s with his wife in 2013, he worked for Sandy’s Music, the previous tenant of the storefront, for 18 years.

The location at 896A Massachusetts Ave., in Riverside between Harvard and Central squares, has served as a music store since the 1970s. The future tenant of the storefront is not yet known.

Known as “Skinny Mike,” Feudale was the frontman and guitarist of The Coffin Lids, a Boston band. A lifelong lover of vintage guitars, Feudale also bought and sold vintage music equipment, and Mike’s Monster Guitar sold and repaired instruments and offered guitar lessons.

“As a guitar repairman, you’re counted on and trusted to take care of people’s guitars that are essentially their babies,” Feudale said. He created strong, “friendly” bonds with his repeat clients.

The shop sold and repaired gear and offered guitar lessons. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Feudale referred clients to his longtime friend Curt Florczak of Curt’s Guitar Repair Boston in Roslindale. Guitar Stop, at 1760 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge’s Neighborhood 9 near Porter Square, may be the more convenient place for some for guitar repairs and music lessons.

Though Feudale said via social media on June 14 merely that at 63 he was retiring to “start a new chapter” of his life, he was embittered in an interview.

“The City of Cambridge selling out to developers – with these high-rises and luxury condos – is pushing up rent and forcing regular people, like myself, out,” he said. Many of those regular people were his clients, Feudale said. “The fact that a lot of those people have been driven out of Cambridge and aren’t able to come back is disturbing to me.”

Though acknowledging that lower sales are an issue at guitar stores nationwide, he also blamed bike lanes along Massachusetts Avenue for making parking more complicated and hurting businesses, including his own. There are bike lanes along both sides of the street in front of Mike’s Monster Guitar.

“The city puts on this ruse that they are supporting small businesses and artists. They are just making it tougher for musicians and artists to exist in this city,” Feudale said.

Parking across the street was removed in the summer of 2021, but parking in front of the shop was kept, said Jeremy Warnick, a city spokesperson.

Feudale raised the issue of nearby businesses: The Door Store, which announced its closing this month; The Atomic Bean Cafe, which closed in 2020 and has been vacant since; and the Mass Ave Diner, which Feudale said has “nobody in there” when he walks by. The diner was called Monday for comment, but a worker would not make an owner or manager available.

The situations at the closed businesses are complex: Though a Door Store manager said bike lanes hurt their business, it is also a remnant of a “furniture store alley” that saw roughly a dozen similar shops close over the years long before bike lanes came. And the store saw a surge of customers over the past month. “People are finding ways,” owner Andrew Anisimov said.

The cafe closed apparently because of the Covid pandemic, and new potential tenants were rejected by surrounding businesses in a commercial condominium arrangement that has led to a legal dispute.

Feudale said businesses remaining empty throughout the day “is a trend now.”