Archive for the ‘Starting Up’ Category

Blog Neglect

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

….is a sad, sad thing. Especially when there’s so much going on – we’ve been racing along with the build-out, jumping through all of the bureaucratic hoops to get the necessary licenses and permits, tasting through loads of amazing (and not so amazing) wines to build the inventory, dealing with all of the unexpected surprises (and costs), etc. It’s a lot for just two people. But – it’s happening! We’ll be opening on Sunday July 20, ready or not, and only a few days after our goal. (The hard deadline is because there will be a feature on us in the Journal-Sentinel, so not being open would be a very bad thing.)

I’ll add pictures to this later. Plenty of build-out photos, but haven’t had the time to do anything with them.

We’ve got a bar!

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

Our on-site build-out began this past week, with our bar getting installed in a marathon session on Tuesday. It looks absolutely fantastic – Aimee and I are thrilled with how it turned out, and we’ve gotten great response from the other vendors in the market and everyone who walks by. All the metal work for the back bar and the railing; the cash register area; and the bar tables are done as well; reach-in coolers, sinks, and upright coolers are on site, and all the rest of the custom woodwork (back bar, side bar partition, window bar, custom shelves) should be done early next week.

Right now we’re targeting July 14 as the opening. Still lots to do (finalize inventory, hire staff, develop menus, configure cash register point of sale, etc.), but it’s all happening fast. All of our custom woodwork is being done by Greg Beaupre of Willow Design, LLC, who’s been amazing to work with. The bar is made of reclaimed oak from a house built in 1922 in Stanley, Illinois, and the rest of the wood in the bar & shop will match that look. Pictures of the bar inside the public market are below; click on each on for a larger image.
Thief Bar Thief Bar

Design Renderings

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

I’ve been neglecting this blog, but not for lack of things to say – on the contrary, there’s been so much going on that I’ve thought “I need to write about that” but just haven’t had the time. I’ve been tasting tons of wine – some great, some not so much – and am making great progress on putting together the inventory. I’ll write another post about a few of the standouts. This one’s about the renderings, though; we’ve had them for a week or two now and I’ve been meaning to put them up here, but haven’t had the time. The space is going to look absolutely gorgeous, and we’ve gotten great feedback from everyone we’ve shown them to. Click on each image for a larger picture. (Note: we promise not to suck out our customers’ souls and turn them into shadow people.)

Rendering 1

Rendering 2

Rendering 2

Looks Can Be Deceiving

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

What a week! I arrived here late Sunday night (major storms in Iowa and here slowed me down, but compared to what so many people have been through, it was a breeze) and it fits like a glove. Aimee and I love our new place (we bought a loft in the Warehouse Lofts, in view of the MPM and a 4-minute walk to it), everyone we’ve met has been so excited about what we’re doing, and we’re moving fast getting the shop going.

We’re targeting the week of July 9 for the opening, which is coming up fast.

If you’ve been by our space in the public market, it doesn’t look like much is going on. Taste of Wisconsin still has merchandise in the space near the wall, and the middle space is a hodge-podge of counters, seating, and miscellaneous equipment. Behind the scenes, though, we’re hopping. Working with Sharon Celek, our interior designer, we’ve got our schematic and design finalized and everything’s in process. Shelving, tables, chairs, and bar stools have been ordered and are on their way, we’ve got an amazing woodworker building out our custom bar and woodwork out of reclaimed wood as I type this, Badger Railing was in today to measure for our metalwork and the railing that will enclose our seating area, under-bar coolers (“reach-ins”) and dishwashers have been purchased, etc.

It’s all happening off-site, so it’ll come together really quickly. We’re targeting the week of the 9th for our opening, which is definitely attainable. Stressful (is it really already June 17!?!), but attainable. Costs are coming in higher than we hoped, but that’s to be expected with any build-out and I built enough flexibility into the budget so that we’ll be fine – with our savings, some help from family, and a small business loan (thanks Johnson Bank!) that we’re closing on tomorrow, it’s all good. The space will be fantastic and we’ve got the ability to stock the wines we want, which is all that matters.

Speaking of that, Aimee and I have been tasting some beautiful wines in the last week. I’m spending my days weeding through distributor portfolios to look for the wines that we might be interested in, setting up meetings, sampling a lot of wines (some good, some not so much, and some just not the right fit), and we’re definitely separating the wheat from the chaff for you. Our goal is to have every wine on the shelf be something you can trust. You may not know the producer, the varietal, or the region, but you can know that it’s going to be good.

The Build-Out

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Things are moving fast behind the scenes, and it’s both daunting and exhilarating. We’re working with Sharon Celek of Celek Interiors, who’s been absolutely fantastic – the design for the shop & bar is looking really good, and having assistance dealing with all logistical things that need to happen for the build-out is invaluable. Now that we’ve got the design, we can start ordering furniture and shelving and having the bar and custom shelving built for us. (Soon our space will not look as empty as it currently does in the picture!)

Pre build-outAimee’s also working nonstop on health dept. meetings, point-of-sales computer system, working with market vendors to develop our food menu, sourcing merchandise, and too many other things to mention.

I’m still working from afar – I’m in CA preparing for my MW exam, and will be driving out after that’s done the first week of June – on coordinating our alcohol permit, getting our marketing going, and the really fun job of putting our wine inventory and lists together. I’ve been in touch with a few distributors thus far and have their portfolios, so I’m like a kid in a candy store. Let’s see, a Barolo here, a Kamptal GrĂ¼ner Veltliner there, and hmm, how many Rieslings do we want to carry? I’ll get a rough idea of what we want over the next couple of weeks, and then we’ll do some serious power-tasting once I arrive. (Trust me, it’s hard work, really it is.)

We’ve gotten really positive reactions from everybody that we’ve been talking to – people in Aimee’s spin classes at the gym, market customers who’ve seen our signs, friends of friends who’ve been spreading the word, etc – so we’re even more excited about our venture and how it will be received. Got some nice press the last couple of days as well – this article from and this one from Milwaukee Small Business TImes.