Retired nuclear engineer fires up new fine cigar shop

Brian Magenis

Brian Magenis

“A cigar is only as good as the memories you have when you smoked it.” A great quote from Raul Julia, it’s the perfect introduction to Magenis Fine Cigar Shop, located on 58 West Pike Street in Canonsburg. Its owner and proprietor Brian Magenis, a retired nuclear engineer, would agree.

“I want my shop to be a place where people can hang out, have a good cigar and just relax,” Magenis said.

Indeed he has created a spot that encourages that experience. From overstuffed leather furniture, football games on weekends, events and even music, it felt like I was in a buddy’s man cave, not that cigar smoking is by any means limited to men. I found myself relaxing and just shooting the breeze with Brian and others gathered for the Pitt vs. Duke game on his large 50-inch television. At game’s end a local band, The Power of Two, did an acoustic set of classic rock. Oh, and did I mention the crockpot full of ham barbecue in the back?

Magenis’ desire to open a cigar shop in Western Pennsylvania was a very unique journey. Following his career as a nuclear engineer, he found himself bored and restless in his retirement.

“I just didn’t want to sit around anymore, you know? I needed to do something,” Magenis said.

His initial thoughts from his home in Oregon gravitated towards opening a bar. He ran into a few hurdles with the establishment’s previous owner and her less than attentive bookkeeping and decided to consider other options. Amongst his considerations were a chemical analysis lab and a cannabis retail store, but both had set backs which sent him to his local cigar shop to ponder the future.

“So I was sitting in this cigar shop relaxing and I thought, this is it,” he said.

He surveyed the country for the perfect location. His girlfriend, Sally Johnson, hails from Eight-Four, Pennsylvania, so he began looking into properties locally. Fond of Canonsburg and the feeling of community, he decided that would be the spot.

To set up the shop, he recruited his girlfriend Sally, or more like, she took over management of the interior decorating. From the color schemes that match cigar wrappers to the wall of famous cigar smokers, which wins you a free cigar if you can name them all, Magenis Fine Cigars just feels like home.

Speaking of cigars! That is what the article is about, n’est pas? Brian carries over 44 different brands of cigars and hundreds of types of those brands on the premises. If there is a particular type of cigar you smoke and don’t see, he guarantees he can get it for you. Brian himself has a favorite, San Lotano, which he orders on a regular basis as its commercial in-stock availability is always limited.

"Magenis Fine Cigars just feels like home."

“Magenis Fine Cigars just feels like home.”

All of his cigars are in humidor display cases and there is even a large walk-in humidor.

“Our cases are set to 68-72 percent humidity. Higher or lower can change the flavor of the cigars,” Magenis said.

For those budget minded cigar smokers, he also carries a supply of factory throw-outs, which are the same fine cigars but the wrapper colors don’t quite measure up to the standards set by the cigar companies. These sell for under a dollar.

In addition to his impressive cigar stock, Magenis Fine Cigar also has gift sets, cigar supplies and pipe tobaccos as well.

If you’re looking for a Casa Magna Tiberius, a nice Cohiba or a factory throw-out, or maybe just a place to hang out and watch a football game with your favorite pipe, stop by Magenis Fine Cigars. Free parking is available at the back of the store and warm casual people congregate inside you will call friends by the time you leave.

FMI on Magenis Fine Cigars, check out their site at and/or Facebook at: mageniscigars. (Special thanks to Anthony Wesolowski for his primer on cigars)
Story by Fred Terling for Pennsylvania Bridges