Stickin to the Basics - Jeff Bardus
A haze of flavorful smoke wisps through the air and into the nostrils to let everyone know that upon walking through the small German Village storefront, they are wandering into a setting that time might have forgotten long ago. A group of men, from different backgrounds and worlds, sit around the small storefront each with histories and lives as unique and colorful as the blends of tobacco burning in each cigar poking out from their mouths. These are the regulars, their time here at Burning Leaf Cigars is an escape for them as much as it is for owner and regular group participant Jeff Bardus.
“It takes a couple of times and a little bit of talking to a person before I can really help figure out what kind of cigar is going to suit them,” says Bardus. “I know from when I went and got a cigar my first time that it’s something that requires a little guidance. That’s what I’m here for.”
Bardus, who before falling into a job at Burning Leaf in 1998 and then eventually taking it over after a couple years, spent time in a previous life selling Kirby vacuums door-to-door and managing a Big Boy restaurant. He prides himself on his ability to make sure every customer walks away with a smile. He knows that in any business, service is everything, and especially in his business, where someone might walk into his humidor filled with intimidation. “I’ve been to shops where people have a high-and-mighty snooty attitude about taking time to answer questions about cigars, or they won’t bend over backwards to please a customer,” says Bardus, “That is completely the opposite of what I’m about. If there is something that the customer specifically wants, I’ll make sure I get it for them.”
In just more than ten years as the owner at Burning Leaf, Bardus swears that this is the time to get into cigars because it’s the golden age for quality and taste. That’s because the leaves and blends are reaching their full potential in the American soil. If you ever thought about taking in a cigar and relaxing like the distinguished and curly mustachioed individual that you would imagine would do the same, now might be the time.
“How bad could something be for you that lets you take a break and relax a little bit,” says Bardus. “People are in such a hurry to get everywhere and there’s so much road rage out there. People need to slow down a little bit every now and then and just relax.”
For more information go to www.burningleaf.com