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Considering opening a wine bar


adegiulio
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Bar stools aren't comfortable...if you are gonna go enoteca italian ish...the bar is for standing...tables are for sitting. I would also look into half tastes, maybe a 1.5 oz. taste of a taste may be quite profitable and nice for the customer to try those 90+ point wines!

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I'm in the business, but not on an ownership/management level - so I don't have much advice. But I will point you to some wine bars that I have enjoyed visiting.

The absolute first is A.O.C. in Los Angeles. Even though the food is very important there (Chef Goin is incredible), they are serious about the wine. They use the nitrogen storage thingee.

In Raleigh, NC, there is Enoteca Vin, which is a wonderful place. You can learn more on these two threads:

EGullet Dinner

Best Restaurant South of NYC

Locally, there is Eno, which I really enjoy. And Vinocity, which I like, but has more of a 'club' atmosphere (because of it's location).

There is also a local chain of winebars called The Grape, which seem to be doing quite well. The first one was opened in Atlanta, maybe two years ago. And now they have about a dozen franchises. Not that I think you want to go the franchise route, but you may pick up some interesting ideas/information from them. Oh, and they do offer different pouring sizes, and you can buy anything next door to take home with you. And the way they split up there wine menu is pretty nice, especially for people who are new to wine and want to learn. They actually have a nice concept, and seem to be executing it pretty well. (Except training their staff. I've been to both locations in Atlanta, and have gotten sub-par service both times.)

And everyone is correct - you have to have food. Just as a responsibility thing, if no other reason. But it should be the same level as your wine. If you're serious about the wine, then hire a decent chef to run the kitchen. Depending on your wine inventory, I don't think you'd have to pair every single thing. (AOC doesn't pair anything on their menu - though Amy would be more than happy to do pairings for you. The Grape suggests pairings for everything.)

And someone mentioned atmosphere, which is important also. You'll basically be opening a restaurant that just happens to be a wine-bar. So decide what you're demographic is going to be. Older clientele who know what (and how) to drink? A younger, but curious, crowd? Or will you try to appeal to all levels? Maybe have a 'newbie night' where you have mini-lectures and set flights. Another local place (Atlanta has about eight wine-bars, surprising for a city this size, I think.) has a bottomless glass night - where you pay $12 and get to try tastes of anything that's open.

And lastly, your location will play a factor in deciding what path to take with the restaurant also.

Keep us updated with what's going on, and good luck to you. Let us (me) know if you have any other ideas or questions.

-Greg

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Bar stools aren't comfortable...if you are gonna go enoteca italian ish...the bar is for standing...tables are for sitting.  I would also look into half tastes, maybe a 1.5 oz. taste of a taste may be quite profitable and nice for the customer to try those 90+ point wines!

I really agree with this suggestion. Tables and standing room allow for a great format. Even in the States, not that not many wineries have their tasting rooms setup w/barstools.

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Useful thread! binTwo, the merchant I run in Cornwall (Rubbish Website), Groovy Messageboard :wink: , will be opening its doors in May, Plumber Volente, to the great and the good who wish to drink wine with us rather than just buy it.

So technically it's a wine bar. We have a slate terrace in front of the shop which will be strewn with teak chairs and tables, and we shall have a few seats under our canopy and a few more inside. But it never rains in Cornwall. :wink: Smart brand colour railings will mark our territory.

A supplier the other day suggested we operate a system where anybody can try anything (we stock c.500 lines). I love this idea. We'd also have staples - Champagne, Wine, Gin, stickies etc. I envisage customers paying a fixed mark-up of x, still undecided, but possibly £5 per bottle or half the price of the bottle per quarter bottle glass, though of course explained less confusingly.

I'd like to discover the joys of nitrogen gassing, too. Any pointers?

And we are not serving meals, but nibbles. Smart crisps, smart nuts, Olives, bread & oil, sweet thingies (?).

All views welcome, helpful or otherwise. :smile:

slacker,

Padstow, Cornwall

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I'd love to open a place like this! Wine bars have recently popped up all over Boston, first with my favorite, Troquet, in the theatre district. You can create your own flights of wine, or choose from a taste or two, either a 2oz or 4oz pour, and the food is great. I gushed over the scallops and different wines I tried in a mini-review on my blog if you want more info, http://efoodie.typepad.com/efoodie/2005/03...an_excelle.html

There are also two new wine/oyster bars that have opened this year. B & G Oysters is by one of the city's more well known chefs, Barbara Lynch. It features up to 18 different kinds of oysters, simple seafood dishes, and wines that specifically match up to the shellfish. Also, in the North End, Neptune Oyster and Wine bar recently opened. I've heard it's very good, and less expensive.

Here's a link to the food that B & G offers, http://www.bandgoysters.com/#menu

One thing I didn't like about Troquet were the higher than they needed to be prices on both the food and wine. I think if your prices or quality need to be high on anything, have it be the wine, and have some good quality, but not necessarily expensive tapas type options, like cheeses, pates, olives, shrimp, mushrooms, scallops in bacon (just had these at a tasting over the weekend, and they are great with wine, red or white) Good crusty bread, and maybe some tortellini.

I'd love to go to a place like this, try some new wines, and enjoy some appetizers.

Edited by pam claughton (log)
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I have always wanted to model a wine bar off what I've seen and been to in Milan. A location near restaurants so that a patron can come in for a before dinner glass of wine or a wine geek can do a tasting depending on the night.

Since I always have wine with food I loved that there were free little appetizers sitting around (but quality ones - good olives, bruschetta, etc).

I did all of the research and put the business model together for a Los Angeles location. In the three years I've been looking around and contemplating the idea (because I realize I'll have to devote my life to it) 3-4 wine bars have opened up. It is definatley a trend right now.

For me I would do a retail/winebar. Keep the store area open when the winebar is happening. People can buy. Important. Also I haven't been to any winebars that have live music but something small like a little jazz thing might be cool. Or at the very least some good stuff spinning in the CD player.

Good luck if you decide to pursue it!

You want to open up a wine bar? How come you never told me? Or did you and I just forgot. :biggrin:

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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This wine bar in San Francisco is drawing a lot of local interest. It has quite a gimmick to make the wine bar experience unique.

VinoVenue

Tasting events usually seem to be a great draw of patrons. I used to frequent an excellent wine bar in southern California that had scheduled tastings conducted by the winemakers themselves. Its great PR and selling opportunities for everyone involved and the customers learn a lot. I would imagine this would produce even more business. A good wholesaler would set these up when the winemakers are in town, touring around the country or happen to be in the neighborhood for trade events.

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I have not read the entire thread, so forgive me if this is redundant. There is a wine bar/wine store in my neighborhood that I love, called Vintage. The back of the store is a wine bar, and you can taste everything they sell. I love that!

edited to add: they only sell local wine, from New York, and that's a good gimmick here.

Edited by emmapeel (log)

Emma Peel

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Hi. Here in Paris my all-time favourite wine bar is Les Couleurs des Vignes. It has: a very limited but good-value and tasty menu... a charming owner (a retired bank director) who has made a point of not only chatting with his clients but getting to know people in the neighbourhood (people who live around there are alwys dropping by just to say hi)... very few tables, which makes it cozy and intimate... soft green walls which are very attractive and stylish... a wildly fabulous wine list at very good prices. Good luck in your ventures. Hope and come to patronize your establishment some day. Freckles

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  • 1 month later...

Ok, we're off!

We had our opening bash last night, after a few days pulling the last few loose ends together. The Mayor of Padstow cut the ribbon, and we are open from 11am today.

We operate a very simple fixed-price corkage policy: £5 plus the shelf price for any bottle. We have a dozen or so wines by the glass, priced at about twice what you'd pay for a quarter bottle of the same. Add to that G&T made with Tanqueray Ten (=TT&T), Absolut Bloody Marys, Pimms and chilled Manzanilla, serve with some bread from Basildog with dipping oil, and voila! A binTwo Wine Terrace!

There will be pics here soon.

slacker,

Padstow, Cornwall

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  • 4 weeks later...
Update.....whew!

When the sun shines we are packed!

:)

Good to hear!

I reckon somewhere selling a nice light inexpensive red - chilled, in nice chunky glasses could do well in summer.

I could happily lose an afternoon drinking that anyway !

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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Update.....whew!

When the sun shines we are packed!

:)

Good to hear!

I reckon somewhere selling a nice light inexpensive red - chilled, in nice chunky glasses could do well in summer.

I could happily lose an afternoon drinking that anyway !

I think it may be 2003 Gamay, C. de la Presle, Touraine.

And there may also be Krug by the glass. I fancy giving it a go!

slacker,

Padstow, Cornwall

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So, we are considering opening a wine bar in the near future, and are doing our research now. Aside from the NY state liquor laws, does anybody have any suggestions or advice for us?

Given the reference to NY State, has anyone here mentioned Just A Taste in Ithaca, NY?

It opened in 1989 (if I recall) with an atmosphere and temperature contraption to keep wine bottles fresh, and also a lively menu of small plates. Extremely well focused and successful format (and ever since hanging out there a bit, I've wondered at the lack of comparable operations in certain other, much larger US markets where surely they would do well.) Anyway, check it out, in person if possible.

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