Sewickley native at the helm of El Fumador

Friday, June 28, 2019 | 11:39 AM


Growing up in Sewickley, Dante Maruca frequently visited the businesses and shops along Beaver Street, never imagining that he’d eventually be one of the proprietors.

But 30 years after graduating from Quaker Valley, Maruca is the owner of El Fumador Cigars, selling premium cigars, pipes, tobacco and accessories.

“I never envisioned I’d be a part of it,” he said while looking out the front door of his Beaver Street establishment. “The other shops are nice to work with. I’m grateful the community accepted us.”

Maruca purchased El Fumador — Spanish for “The Smoker” — from Eddie Moidel, who retired after 23 years in business. Maruca moved the shop to a new location at 511 Beaver St., and created a lounge area with chairs, couches and a large-screen TV.

“Customers enjoy that,” he said. “They say ‘It’s just like being at home.’ And my response is, ‘Except here you can smoke.’ ”

A cigar enthusiast, Maruca wanted to create a welcoming space and offer a variety of cigars. The large humidor is filled with inventory ranging in price from $4 to $40.

“A good cigar doesn’t have to be expensive,” he said. “But we do have the world’s best cigars.”

Timmy Bryner, who likes to joke that he came with the ladder in the humidor, was an employee of Moidel who stayed on to help run the business, which includes internet sales.

He said many customers have been coming for years, but there are always new faces, too. He and Maruca often help customers find products to suit their tastes.

“We love passing this on to millennials,” Bryner said.

Cigars are made of three types of tobacco leaves — the wrapper, binder and filler.

The flavor depends upon the soil in which the tobacco was grown. To maintain an optimal condition, cigars are stored in a humidor that is kept at 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 percent humidity.

“A lot of people come in and don’t know what they’re looking for,” Maruca said. “We have everything from mild to strong.”

The shop has a BYOB policy and some customers like to bring in a bottle to share.

“It’s popular for a couple of guys to bring in a bottle of bourbon and smoke,” said Maruca. “This is a place where people can relax.”

Maruca has become a part of the neighborhood, participating in community events and hosting rolling demonstrations. The shop is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Hours will be extended for football season, and the shop can be used for private events.

While most of his clients are male, Maruca said women are always welcome.

“People come in who don’t even smoke to see what we’ve done with the place,” he said. “It’s a great community.”

For more information, visit elfumador.com or call 412-741-1300.