LYNDHURST, N.J.– Pictures of servicemen and servicewomen adorn the walls of Rich Yanuzzi's Cigar Emporium in Lyndhurst.
His father, Adolph, served in the Army during World War II. So Yanuzzi thought it was fitting to send overseas troops care packages, which customers contribute to.
Cigar Emporium – which has three other locations, including one in West Milford – is partnering with Operation Cigars For Warriors.
"It was a natural marriage for us," Yanuzzi told Daily Voice. "They're an unbelievable organization that sends tens of thousands of sticks overseas."
The shop is hosting a Wounded Warrior fundraiser on June 3, as well.
"We participate in anything that can help fighting men and women," Yanuzzi said.
Yanuzzi was the Commissioner of Elections in Essex County before his term ended.
Four years ago, he sat inside the Emporium "contemplating my future over a cigar."
“I enjoyed the cigars and I understood they were looking to sell," he said. "I knew with some work and effort we could expand the place and create a great atmosphere.”
Yanuzzi self-funded an expansion, turning the 800-square-foot store into a 2,500-square-foot location equipped with a 40-seat lounge.
"If you believe in something, you have to put your money where your mouth is,” he said.
Yanuzzi said he sells over 2,000 boutique cigars at his Lyndhurst location, which is open until 2 a.m. seven days per week.
Cigar Emporium hosts different cigar companies during its monthly events and launch parties.
“We wanted to provide a place where you can come and enjoy yourself and not worry about deadlines," he said. “We've developed a nice late-night crowd of police officers, corrections officers, and first responders that come in after their shifts that can enjoy themselves before they go home.”
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