Adapted from an article by Jakky Johnson that appears here.
Stepping into Len Brunson’s cigar shop on Broadway is like strolling into an earlier, simpler, and more authentic time.
There’s no artifice. OK Cigars is really a snapshot of Jim Thorpe – it says, “What you see is who we are, so come on in.”
You’re immediately greeted with Louisiana-born warmth as Len shows you his wares. OK Cigars is filled with historic and vintage artifacts, and, of course, a huge variety of premium cigars.
Notice the display case full of antique lighters and various smoking paraphernalia. Get a quick lesson and description of a handmade lighter from the trenches of WWII.
Len carries himself like a broadcast journalist – appropriate because he himself was a TV news anchor for three years back in Louisiana. But he wound up leaving that world for New York.
Len owned a cigar shop in SoHo for 18 years, also called OK Cigars, with a business partner, also a gallery owner representing artists such as Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. Len and his wife, Patricia, were contemplating the end of the lease for the cigar business, and, growing weary of the New York pace of things, they escaped one weekend and happened upon Jim Thorpe, PA – which, by the way, is only two hours from New York’s George Washington Bridge.
Well, we could certainly offer them a more relaxed pace here, so they settled down, had a bite to eat, then went to a concert at the Mauch Chunk Opera House, just up the street.
Maybe that subtle Jim Thorpe embrace was just what they needed. It was an awakening, so to speak. After his SoHo lease expired in May of 2014, they moved to Jim Thorpe, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Watch Len Brunson interact with guests and it becomes apparent that he relishes his exchanges with people. He enjoys the architecture, the mountains, the river, the kindhearted residents, and the artistic people who live here. He’s a very informative and gracious host to boot.
So, New York’s loss is Jim Thorpe’s gain, and we are able to have somebody like Len in town. If you’re looking for a taste of history, someone who looks you in the eye when you talk, or a wonderful cigar, pay OK Cigars a visit.
Oh, and by the way, it turns out he knows his way quite well around a microphone and a guitar, and so he’ll open for Ten Strings and a Goat Skin (from Canada’s Prince Edward Island) at the Opera House on Friday, May 20. Funny how things work out in Jim Thorpe.