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Monday, March 30, 2015

Holy Smokes

Fertitta steps into cigar business

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What do an alligator, a cigar and an ordained minister have in common?

What may seem like the punchline of a joke, for Patrick Fertitta, these are the tools of his new cigar business Fertitta Private Reserve.

Fertitta, a member of the famed Fertitta’s Delicatessen family and a minister at University Lutheran Church in Tuscaloosa, Ala., is selling his brand of cigars online with the help of an alligator mascot named “Christeaux.”

Fertitta Private Reserve sells two types of cigars online at fertittacigars. com. The first is a Maduro, which Fertitta describes as a bold expression of dark chocolate, leather and cracked peppercorn. Also offered is the Natural, which is milder than the Maduro and has notes of fresh island grass.

Fertitta’s choice of cigars would be a Maduro. “[Smoking a cigar] is a special kind of treat for me. It’s something to have a nice steak and glass of cabernet and it’s just something about having a good Maduro cigar to finish it all off,” he said. “[The flavors of the cigars] evolve as you smoke them. For instance, with our Maduro initially you get some of those real dark chocolaty characteristics to it at the very beginning. As you smoke it down after the first third of the cigar, you get more woody and leathery type notes and it starts to get more full. Then as it moves down into the last third, I’ve noticed more peppercorn with a really potent bold kick – almost kind of a spiciness.”

Many locals are already seeking out Fertitta’s cigars online during their presale. “The response that we have seen online has been tremendous,” he said. “In fact, I had to contact the company that we are working with and double my first inventory order already. So I think that it bodes well for the brand.”

Fertitta works with a cigar manufacturer, but was unable to name the specific third party out of the Dominican Republic. “The manufacture produces for some of the top companies in the world. This is a super-premium cigar that we are selling at a mid-range price,” Fertitta said.

Prices are right at about $9.99 per cigar. Fertitta said customers are getting a cigar that could retail for quite a bit more than what you end up paying for it.

What makes the most difference to Fertitta is that his cigars are hand-rolled, which he said offers the best quality cigar verses a machine-rolled smoke.

“With a hand-rolled cigar you have a person who has been rolling cigars probably all their life and they have a trained expert eye. They are going to look at the wrapper and filler leaves and they are going to make sure that the best is going into that cigar,” he said. “If they have a wrapper that has some problems they are going to throw out that wrapper and start again. I wanted to make sure that all our cigars are hand-rolled and done so by experts.”

Fertitta’s Uncle Mickey played a big part in the selection process of the cigars.

“He didn’t want to back me on junk.

He said, ‘We are gonna have to smoke several of these to see what sort of blend we like the most.’ So we did. We smoked several and decided on the ones that we liked the most and decided to start smaller with the Maduro and the Natural and to go with a turo size, 52 ring gauge and 6-inch cigar,” he said.

Fertitta said the Shreveport market tends to prefer a shorter cigar with larger ring gauges, however he decided to go with the longer cigar to help customers get a little more for their money.

Starting off, Fertitta will offer his pre-sale special online and from there he will offer the cigars at a few select retailers yet to be determined. “I know that once people get the cigars and try them, they are gonna love them,” he said. “I only foresee those orders increasing.”

Fertitta said his last name is synonymous with quality in Shreveport.

“I wanted to provide that same quality but at a price that is affordable for the average customer,” Fertitta said. “I could see having a Muffy and smoking that Natural together. I could see those flavors working very well together.”


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