Heard Through the Grapevine: Wine Bar Planned for Park Avenue
Like quite a few of their fellow Swarthmoreans, Jill Gaieski and Lori Knauer enjoy a glass of good wine. Together, they’ve also pursued the Certified Specialist in Wine designation at the Wine School in Philadelphia, a serious program that incorporates aspects of oenology and oenophilia. Now, out of their appreciation of wine, its variety and lore, the two are working to bring Swarthmore a wine bar and bistro named Village Vine, which they plan to open next year in the former Compendium location at 6 Park Avenue.
Gaieski, an attorney and anthropologist, is fascinated by the roles of fermented beverages, particularly wines, “in the ceremonies and celebrations of cultures going back thousands of years. Wines bring people together.” She believes there is an infinite amount of knowledge available to those who are interested in making and enjoying wine.
Knauer said, “Jill broached the idea for the wine bar, and it really resonated with me … the idea of wines from different regions; unusual wines that people may not have tried before. I really like the expansiveness; the educational and cultural components rather than the formal, fancy, how-expensive-a-wine-can-you-drink [approach].”
After more than a year of dreaming and scheming, the partners took the plunge this spring, making a partial payment on a liquor license and applying to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board for the right to sell alcohol at 6 Park Avenue.
Wine bears upon other shared areas of interest and passion, Gaieski said, including food. The Village Vine location will be equipped with a kitchen and a menu focusing on small plates — food that accompanies wine, rather than vice versa. The owners have talked with a chef they hope to involve in the enterprise when it opens (ideally in early spring of 2020).
Architect Bob Linn of Media is planning the adaptation of the 700 square-foot first floor storefront, which Gaieski said will have room for 32 seats and an open kitchen, without changing the existing footprint or facade. A few outside tables are also a possibility.
What about the elephant in the Ville — the so-called Biddle Tract deed restriction, which seemingly precludes sale of alcohol in much of the Swarthmore Town Center? Gaieski said, “We think that [6 Park Avenue] is carved out from any restricted area. “ Knauer, herself a lawyer, said that analysis by their attorney concluded that “our area is not bound by the reciprocal deed restrictions, and we believe that we can operate there. We filed an application for a liquor license, and two people did file a motion to intervene, on the basis of the deed restriction. But we understand that that is not an issue the PLCB is concerned with at all.”
The ground has been prepared, the grapes are taking root, and the Village Vine partners are hoping that 2020 will bring a very good vintage.