Jeff Bardus - Fired Up

To pick up a cigar and really enjoy it, you have to carry a bit of knowledge of the cigar world. It’s a world akin to that of fine wines and choice coffee blends where smokers are constantly trying to find the elusive holy grail though trial and education. Jeff Bardus, owner of Burning Leaf Cigars in German Village, has been accepting students over the years, while still picking a few things up himself.

“When I started working here, I was an uneducated cigarette smoker,” admits Bardus. “I’ve been here for 10 years, and sometimes my customers are still teaching me things I didn’t know about cigars.”

Bardus, a West side native, took a temporary position at Burning Leaf in 1998 while he was looking for work, but quickly grew to love the cigar world and all the aromas that came with it. When the opportunity came to take over the store in 2001, Bardus jumped at it and made immediate improvements to increase his clientele.

Cigars boxes are piled to the tops of humidors, and the walk-in humidor is so well stocked that only a few people can fit in at a time. It’s obvious that there is need for expansion, and Bardus is the first to admit it. “My dream is have my own cigar parlor. I’m talking really nice, with nice leather chairs and a pool table,” says Bardus. “I’m going to have to do something soon, or I’m going to have to turn my office into a humidor.”

“I brought the inventory up from 20,000 to 80,000 within 5 years,” says Bardus. “If you’re someone who is just getting into cigars or you have loved them for years, you are going to go where you have the greatest selection. That is what I’m trying to provide.”

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