… CHICAGO — Jennifer Mueller isn’t a cigar smoker. But even she couldn’t resist lighting up at husband Don’s recent birthday party at their home.
One of the gifts Don received was an appearance by a cigar roller, who spent two hours hand-rolling CF Dominicana cigars for the 60 party guests.
“She rolled 50 cigars right there in front of us, and she also brought 50 for people to smoke (the freshly rolled cigars need to cure and dry),” Jennifer said. “She had 10 minis; they were little cigar minis for the ladies who might want to smoke them. And those were chocolate-flavored. It was very good.”
The cigar roller was a gift from one of Don’s friends and was arranged through New York-based CF Dominicana Cigars (www.cigarcatering.com). Having cigar rollers making cigars for guests is a new trend at corporate events, birthday parties and weddings. The guy behind it is Dennis Briganti, president of CF Dominicana Cigars.
He has been in the cigar-catering business since June 2000, offering CF Dominican’s and custom cigar bands. He rolled out the rollers a couple of years later, and they’re now hitting their stride, expanding operations to 14 cities.
The idea has been around awhile but on a lesser scale with small shops sending rollers to events. Briganti has built a network of 20 master rollers in the 14 cities who not only roll the cigars but also become part of the party.
“Our rollers are … amicable, personable and bilingual,” he said. “They know they have to be a contribution to the success of the event. They’re not there to be detached and roll cigars in a corner somewhere. So people ask questions. They want to take pictures.”
The company, which also offers cigar servers and customized bands, does 20 to 30 events a month (basic cost is $975 for two hours of rolling). Interestingly, Briganti said 70 percent of his clients are women.
“It’s the novelty and the craft that they appreciate. It’s not a machine-made thing. I never had a clue that that was where this was going. … Guys love it, but they’re not as enamored by the craft as they are by smoking the cigars.”