At Ciao Pittsburgh, we often like to highlight the small businesses of Italian-Americans living and working in Pittsburgh and the surrounding region through our Personality Profiles. Last week, founder and publisher, Jack De Leonibus, caught up with one of the owners and founders of his favorite cigar shops, Jeff & Sammy’s Cigar House, in Verona, PA. Jack met with Salvatore (Sammy) Iovino, Jr. during a recent visit to his shop to learn more about his business and his Italian heritage.
Jack: Tell our readers why you decided to open a cigar shop.
Sammy: Jeff and I wanted to meet the demands of cigar aficionados like ourselves and we wanted longer hours. Few cigar shops in the Pittsburgh region kept later hours so if you wanted to enjoy a cigar after work, there was really no place to go. Many of us can’t smoke inside our homes either, so I also wanted a place where people could smoke inside.
Jack: How long have you been a cigar smoker?
Sammy: Since 1990.
Jack: So, what are some of your favorite brands?
Sammy: There are just too many good ones to choose from.
Jack: As a cigar smoker myself, I understand where you’re coming from!
Jack: What do you like best about being Italian?
Sammy: The traditions. People just don’t understand our traditions of the 7 fishes on Christmas Eve, family, and the food. Unless you’re Italian, many generations are starting to lose their sense of tradition and I just want to keep it going.
Jack: Which traditions do you keep up with?
Sammy: Definitely the 7 fishes. I also make my own homemade wine and hot sausage. And I keep up with the Sunday pasta dinner with family.
Jack: What part of Italy are you from?
Sammy: Naples. I now have family in Caserta.
Jack: Have you been back for a visit?
Sammy: Just once, but I do want to go back again when my son gets older so he can appreciate it.
Jack: What are some of your passions in life?
Sammy: Family—they always come first. I try to spend as much time as I can with my wife Kim and my son Sammy III.
Jack: How long have you lived in Pittsburgh?
Sammy: Most of my life, except for a 10 year period when I lived in Las Vegas. When my son was born, I moved back to Pittsburgh and now live in Penn Hills.
Jack: Finally, tell us a little bit about your business.
Sammy: We’re open from 9am-10pm, Mondays through Wednesdays. On Thursdays, we stay open until 11pm. On Fridays and Saturdays, we’re open until midnight, and on Sundays we’re open from 7:30am-6pm. We actually close when the last cigar goes out! We’re also a BYOB establishment. We offer a large selection of premium cigars for our customers, a walk-in humidor, WiFi, a full line of accessories, big screen TVs, inside seating, and an outside patio.
In addition to coming here to enjoy a nice cigar, we try to have events year-round such as a pig roast, bands, televising all the major fights, and of course, Bocce! This fall, we also plan to start a bowling league for the Cigar House patrons.
No matter what nationality you are, we make sure everyone can feel comfortable. We want everyone to come and feel welcome here!
Check out some of the photos below from our visit with Sammy! Just click on the photos to enlarge them.