This is the first of several recurring posts from David Lazarus about the intricacies of opening and running a wine shop. David's posts will appear on Wednesdays.
Last week my wife and I realized a portion of a dream we have nursed for the past ten years or so. We opened our very own wine store! If you had asked me ten years ago what it would be like to accomplish this I would have said just order the wine, load up the racks and open your doors. I probably would have said the same thing as recently as 4 months ago. Now that we have done it, I can say that it is far from that easy and some of the tasks that I thought would be easiest turned out to be the hardest.
We started our journey roughly four months ago, after an attempt to buy an existing wine store fell through. Our first hurdle was finding a location. We had several ideas and contacted a real estate agent who investigated several properties, which found were either not available or way too expensive. The agent made several suggestions none of which appealed to us. Then my wife suggested we investigate a building five minutes from our home, which had been empty for several months. The building had lots of charm and was located in near the Mt Washington business district. It had off street parking, a small commercial kitchen and spaces perfectly suited for a retail store and a wine bar. It was perfect.
We started negotiations and quickly came to an impasse, as the owner was unwilling to budge much on price. We had several choices at this point: we could start looking again or we could meet his price. We spent a week or so looking at several other properties in the area, but found nothing as suitable and ready to go as the building on which we had made the offer. We decided that it would make sense to spend a little more money than we had intended so that we could be open in time for the holiday season. We felt that since so little needed to be done to the building in Mt Washington, we would save money in the long run, by not having to do many improvements and being able to open sooner. We were right on the second point anyway. The building, which we ended up buying, had a few warts. It needed a new roof and box gutters, cha ching! It needed new heating and cooling, cha ching!
The next challenge was transferring the liquor license from its previous owner. There were many hoops to jump through, not mention the hefty check to purchase the license itself and the fee to the attorney who brokered the deal. We also had pre-inspections by the health department (mostly because the license we were buying was a restaurant license), the building department, the police and last but not least, liquor control. We survived all of these with only a few scrapes. We had a few minor tasks we had to get done before final inspection. A couple of weeks later, we were ready and scheduled the follow-up inspections, which we passed with flying colors. Hooray! Now we had to wait for Columbus to process the transfer and mail us the license. We thought this might take several weeks and began making contact with the various wine distributors in anticipation of getting our license.
Tune in next Wednesday for the process involved in selecting the wines.
Friends of ours, David & Jan Lazarus, have opened a new wine shop over in Mt Washington (sort of between Riverbend and Anderson). Water Tower Fine Wines will be hosting wine tastings on Friday nights, with regular and premium tastings.
Tastings will be Fridays, 5:30-8:30 pm, and will cost $15 for 6 wines. For more information, call the shop at 513.231.WINE. Tastings begin this Thursday!
Additionally, David will be a recurring guest writer for us, with some inside tidbits on what it's like to open and own a wine shop, as well as occasional wine reviews.
Full disclosure: Kevin & I are handling the web site for the shop (site currently under construction), but it's mostly out of friendliness (I believe we're being paid in things such as wine).
Now that I'm awake and recovering from my redeye flight, I want to give you a quick rundown of my weekend at BlogHer Food in San Francisco.For those of you who remember my BlogHer '09 posts from July, you might be surprised I so willingly attended. I was surprised myself, but curiosity got the better of me, and I'm glad it did.
Continuing the motif, I was also surprised that I enjoyed myself so thoroughly. I had intended on staying through my session, which was before lunch, and then heading out to explore San Francisco. I ended up remaining at the conference for the entire day. I found the sessions, while geared towards recipe-oriented food bloggers, were still relevant for review and wine blogs as well. The whole attitude of the day was different from what I expected, and I was thrilled. It was the perfect size (I believe it was around 300 people) and the programming struck just the right note.
My panel focused on blogging best practices. Not only was I on a panel with an impressive group of women, we actually talked about blogging. (My panel included two cookbooks authors, Elana and Lauren, as well as Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen, with moderating by Alanna Kellogg.) It was refreshing. I also attended a session on photography basics, as well as a fantastic session on protecting your work and copyright. I learned something in every session I attended. I'm a terrible conference attendee, and often my attention easily wanders, so BlogHer Food's programming impressed me.
In fact, the only complaint I heard from anyone (myself included) was about the lunch. It was a hyper Rocco diSpirito and Bertolli. Yep, they served a bunch of food bloggers thawed Bertolli. When the people at the table are complaining that the ravioli alfredo was more reminiscent of biscuits and gravy, you know there's a problem. Wine was provided by St. Supery.
Perhaps it was because we were all coalescing around a common topic – the love of food and wine – but I found the entire environment to be a lot more friendly than my previous BlogHer experiences. I hunted down folks I knew, people I hadn't seen in a long time, and even met several impressive authors who were more than friendly. I gladly attended a party in the evening, looking forward to seeing some people again. I discovered that food bloggers are food bloggers, no matter their genre. Recipe bloggers were interested in hearing from review bloggers (and wine bloggers!) and I was interested to talk to the recipe folks. It was just such a different experience – for me – than the larger BlogHer conference I attended in July.
Finally, while there was swag, it was both excellent and controlled. I
believe there were only five sponsors in the expo/demo area (Healthy
Choice, Campbell's, Pur, Cuisinart, and Pillsbury) as well as the
Bertolli lunch and the California Milk-sponsored breakfast. The organization
even set up an easy and obvious area to donate unwanted foodstuffs from
the goodie bags to a local shelter.
Even if I don't speak next year, I'll gladly return to BlogHer Food.
Among other things, it was just great to be in a room with other people
who all whip out their cameras to take a photo of their food.
Camaraderie wins every time.
Update: Live blogging sessions have been posted.
Note: This post is cross-posted for the most part at technology blog bub.blicio.us.
Hello! This is just a quick introductory post for any of you who might be poking around my blog during BlogHer Food. I'm speaking on the panel "How Blogging Best Practices Apply, No Matter Your Blogging Niche." I'm speaking with some great women, so I encourage you to come to our session. We're not focusing on recipe blogging alone either (after all, I'm a wine blogger), as there are a bunch of other types of food bloggers out there, including restaurant reviews, chef blogs, and so many more. Everyone is welcome to our session – and we value your input!
My blog is about my journey, with my husband, through the fun but occasionally complicated world of wine. Additionally, we pride ourselves on loving our city – Cincinnati – and promoting the local wine industry, including retail, restaurants, and wineries.
Please feel free to poke around. You'll be looking at the blog in it's last days at Typepad as sometime within the next month, I'll be moving the whole thing to WordPress.
I'd love to hear from you, and to hear about your experiences at BlogHer Food.
By the time you read this, I'll be on a plane to San Francisco. I'm taking a quick trip, staying with my wine blogger friend Thea, and speaking at the BlogHer Food conference. I'm back early Monday.
Just because I'm in the City by the Bay doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy the fantastic wine events happening this weekend, although the rest of the week is pretty light.
Remember, all the recurring events, those dependable weekly tastings,
are displayed on our calendar. The one-time events are after the jump.
There's a good chance I missed something, as my schedule has been out-of-control this week (real life and all), so just email me or list it in the comments.
For information on what's going on
in Dayton, you can refer to Mark's blog at Uncorked.
Wine Competitions Wine Book Club (WBC) Wine Judging Reviews Readings Whiskey Watch France Weblogs Games Wine Clubs Books RIP Repost WBW #65 Wine Glossary Wine Maps TasteCamp Web/Tech Marketing Uncategorized Legislation Recipes Florida Recession Wine Meet the Winemaker Greatest Hits Holiday Drink Pink! (BCRF) Television Current Affairs Wine Shop Wednesday Photos Spirits Contests Scotch & Whiskey History Disney Wine Tech Food and Wine Pairings Mad Men Monday Guest Writers Pop Culture Food and Drink Wine Blogs Knowledge Entertainment Dinner and Drinks Life Charity Benefits News Beer-Guy.net Beer Special Events WBW Local Wineries Cocktails Wine Shops Restaurants Travel Wine Notes Wineries Wine Events Weekly Cincinnati Wine Events Wine Misc Local Tastings Cincinnati