On a vacation in the Caribbean, entrepreneur Jon Halper was wooed by a wine bar that offered tastes of several wines, each pour activated by a card system. After tasting a few, he was able to select a bottle to bring to dinner.
"Everybody had a ton of fun," he said. "I planted it in the back of my mind."
The ability to offer samples of so many wines has to do with a "preservation system" that keeps each one at the right temperature. About eight months ago, Halper met someone who sells those systems, and "everything clicked," he said.
"We're in the middle of the pandemic, and knowing that we will come out of this and people are going to want a social experience and a way to come together — and knowing how much people enjoy wine and learning about wine, I started working with my team to formulate a plan to open a wine bar," he said.
Halper owns Top Ten Liquors, a small chain with 12 stores in the Twin Cities metro area. When the 13th store debuts next spring, that self-serve, card-activated wine-tasting experience will be a part of it.
Located in a former Champps at Ridgedale Center in Minnetonka, Wineside will be a hybrid liquor store, restaurant/wine bar and grocery store. The 12,000-square-foot space gives each of those elements room to spread out. More than half of it will go to the liquor store, which will have some 3,000 bottles of wine as well as beer and spirits.
The restaurant will serve food that pairs best with the 100 wines available by the glass for tasting: cheese, charcuterie, sandwiches and salads. In the 5,000-square-foot grocery store, customers can pick up some of those cheeses and cured meats to go.
"We really want to offer the best of the best of cheese, charcuterie, spices, chocolates, things like that, that we'll be able to turn into the food that we serve on the wine side. A chef will be able to take those ingredients and turn them into a really complementary food to go along with the wine," Halper said.
There's also a patio, and Halper is hoping Wineside will open by Mother's Day to take advantage of summer weather. Classes, customer clubs and wine dinners are also on the horizon, to take advantage of those 100 open bottles.
"I think that it offers us an amazing opportunity to allow customers to really have a journey through wine," Halper said.
Wineside will be located at 1641 Plymouth Rd., Minnetonka.
The Get Down Coffee Co. (1500 44th Av. N., Mpls., getdowncoffee.com) is celebrating its grand opening weekend Nov. 26-28. What started as a north Minneapolis barbershop — Houston White Men's Room — then expanded into retail, has now added a coffee component in collaboration with Dogwood Coffee.
Eyes Wide Hospitality's latest endeavor takes over a former Ruby Tuesday's to reimagine the traditional steakhouse concept by incorporating "wild" ingredients from local farmers, foragers and fishmongers, said owner Tony Donatell. Farmer and the Fishmonger (14883 Florence Trail, Apple Valley, farmerandthefishmonger.com) is slated to open in early December.
A 73-year-old Hastings bakery is closing its doors Nov. 20. Emily's Bakery and Deli owners Norine Bishop and Steve Fox wrote on Facebook that "many factors" went into the decision. The closing date was originally scheduled for Nov. 27, but moved up a week because the bakery was so "overwhelmed" by orders after the announcement. The store (1212 Vermillion St., Hastings, 651-437-3338, emilysbakerydeli.com) has limited hours for its final week.
Blue Wolf Brewing Co. (8515 Edinburgh Centre Dr., Brooklyn Park) closed Nov. 12 after 3 1/2 years. In a statement on its website, the owners wrote, "When we opened this place, we never expected how close we would come to some of you. We will never forget the kindness, love, support, and caring so many of you had for this place, and us."
Khan's Mongolian BBQ (500 E. 78th St., Richfield) closed Nov. 14 after a 28-year run in Richfield. An announcement on Instagram cited "upcoming extensive road construction on 494 and Portland Ave, ending of our current lease, ongoing pandemic difficulties, and staffing issues." A Roseville location remains open (2720 N. Snelling Av., Roseville, 651-631-3398, khansmongolianbbqmn.com).