Keens was established in 1885 in New York City. It was known as a rendezvous for the rich and famous. Keens boasts the world's largest collection of churchwarden pipes. A churchwarden pipe is a tobacco pipe with a long stem that can be as long as 16 inches. The name comes from the churchwardens, who used to put the pipe's long stem out of church windows so they could smoke in the holy place.

Churchwarden pipes provide a cooler smoke because of the long distance the smoke must travel from bowl to mouth. Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Albert Einstein, and J.P. Morgan have all been members of Keens' Pipe Club.