My 15 Minutes of Fame (almost!)

The wine bar has been open for 3 months now.  I keep thinking I am at a point where I can slow down long enough to post on my blog again, but something always comes up that keeps me hopping.  But I am not so stressed anymore so I do see the light at the end of the tunnel and unless it is a train, I will be back soon!  🙂

For now, please enjoy this video from my appearance on a local TV station for their Restaurant Show.

Latitude Wine Bar on the Restaurant Show

 

 

Wine Bar Update 11-11-2013

The wine bar is coming along great!  I have been shopping (one of my favorite pastimes) for everything from bar stools, to mirrors to lights to wine.  The mirrors for the bathrooms have already arrived and the bar stools have shipped.  They should be here this week.

I have also been working.  As most of you know, the overall look for the wine bar is vintage using repurposed items where possible.  I purchased tables and chairs from a restaurant that had closed its doors a few years ago.  They have been in storage all this time so we are now tasked with cleaning them up and making them presentable.  My son-in-law is working on the tables.  He is stripping them down and sanding them lightly so we can refinish them but still maintain the vintage look.  Hubby and I have been doing the chairs.  They are just getting an intense scrubbing with a rejuvenating product called WATCO.

Before "Rejuvenating"

Before “Rejuvenation”

After "Rejuvenation"

After “Rejuvenation”

I am going to save pictures of the tables until we are ready to open as the finish on them is such an integral part of our overall look and besides, we need to have some surprises.  😉

We have also been working on the menu and playing around with prepping some of the items.  I plan to offer a “Red Wine Lover’s Trio” consisting of strawberries or cherries, chocolate and pecans.  I would like to do a “White Wine Lover’s Trio” as well but am having trouble coming up with just the right combination of foods.  I would really appreciate your input and suggestions.  I am thinking of apples drizzled with caramel syrup or a dried fruit such as apricots, cheese, and almonds.  Thoughts???

Before 1 Menu1

Poles drizzled with Caramel, cheese, and Almonds

Apples drizzled with Caramel, cheese, and Almonds

We have also met a distributor who specializes in organic and sustainable farmed vineyards.  Everything they have available is estate grown and from small family run wineries with small production.

We anticipate opening by the first of the year so please join us on Facebook for your personal invitation to our soft opening for Facebook followers only.  www.facebook.com/latitudewinebar

Wine Bar Update: 11-4-2013

Hard-hat and High Heels

hardhar highheels

Yes, construction has finally started!!!  We are actually a couple of weeks into the build-out.

My days are now full of wine tastings, shopping for supplies and furniture and meeting with food distributors.  This past week I was invited by US Foods to a special culinary event in Savannah.  I have been really concerned about my menu as we don’t have a real kitchen.  We will use a convection oven, Panini press and an induction burner for most of our food prep.  These food distributors know what they are doing.  They make both the menu decisions and prep work so easy, but of course, nothing beats the right recipe!  (Our menu will be finalized over the next couple of weeks and I will publish it here first!)  What is your favorite wine-pairing?  Any suggestions for our menu?

construction 1

This image lets you see the shape of the bar as well as the door into the kitchen from behind the bar.  The plumbing is set and hidden under he concrete floor.  Next week they should start the electrical wiring.  Lights have already been purchased.  Wires for the point of sale and security have already been pulled.  We are going with the industrial look so the open ceiling was being painted black Saturday, but the fumes were too bad for us to go in.  It is coming together!!!

I have been stressed (seems to be my middle name lately) over the last couple of weeks as I am not able to get the great bar stools I found online.  Every time I find a stool I like it is not available in the US.  One company offered to ship to me for a guesstimate of $1,300 for shipping alone.  I have looked at hundreds of bar stools trying to find the right vintage style to compliment the rest of the bar.  Your bar and bar stools actually make a statement to every person walking through your door.  They have to be right.  I finally found them just yesterday; but I think I am going to save the pictures for the completed bar.   So I am ready to jump the next hurdle thrown at me this week.  I am still waiting to hear back from the health department.  I understand that can be a fine line to walk!

Please check us out on Facebook to get our daily updates regarding opening and special events we are planning.  Did you see the logo we’ve come up with?!?!

Another week down and a step closer!

Another week down and a step closer!

Wine Bar Uodate – 9-16-2013

What a difference a week makes!  Actually, I got the news last Thursday (Hubby’s birthday, September 12) that the SBA had approved our loan.  I knew there was no reason to not get the approval, but seriously, this has been dragging out for six months.  So finally it has happened.  And I am excited – thrilled actually.  One would think that I have now jumped through all the bureaucratic hoops they could throw at me but no, they have pulled out a few new ones, like just now ordering copies of my tax return transcripts from the IRS.  Apparently they can’t use the copies I have.  My only question is:  “Why didn’t they order these a month ago instead of waiting until now?”  I can’t blame this on anyone but the bank.

I also met with the contractor today and signed the final quote sheet and paid for all the permits.  We now have a business license, a building permit and have paid our retail impact fees to the city of Bluffton.

The bank hasn’t given me a date for closing on the loan, but I am really hoping this happens by the end of the month so that we can start construction the first week in October.  This is like giving birth – I will have been at this 9 months by the time we get the build-out completed.

amanda-cartoon-pregnant

Please check us out on Facebook and give us a “Thumb’s Up.”  We are planning a special grand opening party just for Facebook followers and I would love to see you there.

Wine Bar Update – 9-9-2013

It is really hard to believe it has been six weeks since I updated everyone on the status of Latitude Wine Bar.  It continues to be the SLOWEST moving project I have ever been involved in.

On a brighter note, we have sold our house in Winston Salem, NC.  It was on the market for 4 months which appears to be a fairly quick sale.  As of today, we have furniture sitting in two different storage units, at my daughter’s house and in a temporary living arrangement my husband has been forced into as we wait for all the pieces to fall into place for the wine bar.

We have also entered into a contract to buy a house in Bluffton.  It is a really cute little house (to better define little, the new house is literally half the size of the old house).  We have sold some furniture, had a huge yard sale and donated numerous items to charity.  We know that we will have to sell even more furniture once we get into the new house and determine exactly what we need.

These are two huge steps out of our laundry list of things we are trying to do.  It is a load off my mind and has allowed me to become focused once again on the wine bar, blogging and social media.  I haven’t lost focus on the wine bar, but packing, moving and going back and forth between South and North Carolina has pulled me away from blogging and social media.  (It is good to be back!)

Now back to the wine bar!  About three weeks ago, I received a phone call from my contractor.  They had been getting quotes in from sub-contractors and they were way over budget.  The cost of the build-out for he wine bar actually went up by 45% – yes, you read that right!  Not 5 or 10%, but a full 45%.  I was in shock – that was a lot of money.  I told them I just couldn’t do it, I was going to pull the plug.  Stunned silence on the other end of the phone!  After several seconds, a very subdued voice ask me to give them a chance to get more quotes in and to work out some other issues related to the cost of the build-out.  It took them until this past weekend to get me the revised quote.  It is still 15% above the original estimate, but is doable.  I am going to let go of some other items I wanted – such as the dishwasher (glasses will now be done by hand, at least in the beginning) and the awning over the windows will wait until next Spring.

Then we have the Small Business Loan – OMG!!!  This is one of those things that should have been approved in 7-10 business days; but no, the SBA was behind so it was going to take 30 days.  And they took the full 30 days, but then all they came back with was a request for more info.  I have been supplying more info for the last two weeks.  Hopefully today wrapped up all of their requests.  It is definitely a balancing act!

A_Man_Balancing_a_Dollar_Sign_on_His_Nose_and_Walking_a_Tightrope_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_110430-174782-949053

I have met a couple of distributors and have enjoyed some really good wine tastings.  The business plan is solid.  And I promise there will be a special post put up the day they actually start construction (you may not be able to stand me!)!!!

Cheers!!!

Follow us on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/LatitudeWineBar

Wine Time

BIG Announcement:  We have finally gotten approval on our alcohol beverage license!!!  It is a conditional license until we get the build-out completed at which time the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division will come inspect the space to ensure it meets all the requirements for serving alcohol to patrons.  So one major hurdle out of the way!!!

And we started tasting wines with one of our distributors – Republic National Distributing Company.  Some of them I have had before, one of them I have actually received as a media sample and written about.  It was nice to feel some familiarity with the wines.  Even though I have been writing about wine for a couple of years now, my palate is still very inexperienced and there are a lot of varietals and regions that I have never tasted.

Our distributor rep is very knowledgeable about the wine industry and is providing us with great tips about wine and running a wine bar.  For example, we should have mandatory wine tastings for our staff each week.  After all, you can’t make a recommendation on a wine you have never tried and you definitely would not be able to pair it with food.  Another great tip – how unique should our wine lineup actually be???  Will our patrons want something they are familiar with or will they always be willing to step out of their comfort zone and go for something obscure?  So we will carry some great go-to wines for those days and those customers who don’t want to have to think, they just want to sip and relax.

We tasted a variety of wines with Miriam, our distributor rep.  As we haven’t committed to any purchases yet, I won’t go into detail here about everything we tasted, but I do want to mention a couple that stood out.

The first is Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Shiraz.  I was fortunate enough to have received a media sample of this wine several months ago and was very impressed with it – then and now.

The other wine I want to mention is Saintsbury Carneros Pinot Noir.  Of the ones we tasted, this was my favorite.  Per the winemaker’s notes, this wine has aromas of forest floor, dark cherry, plum and mahogany.  It was wonderful, offering a broad mouth feel, enticing mid-palate and smooth lingering finish.

th (3)

I need to figure out a way to track the wines I am interested in carrying.  There is no way I can go back when it is time to actually order and remember what I liked or why.  And as with any new business, I have a budget for the wine inventory so I need to track my cost as I go as well.

Please check us out on Facebook!  We have t-shirts to give away and will be planning a soft grand opening for Facebook followers only – would love to see you there!

Latitude Logo Apparel

As most of you know, I am opening a wine bar in Bluffton, South Carolina – just outside of Hilton Head. The process has been (much) slower than I ever could have imagined, but things have started moving forward. Today we got t-shirts in with our logo. We wanted the shirts so that we could start wearing them out in public to build an awareness of the wine bar. I actually wasn’t planning on selling them, but I have had several people say they would like one.

Logoed computer bag and t-shirt

Logoed computer bag and t-shirt

The shirts are great!  We bought them through a local company called New South Shirts.  The price was very reasonable and everything looks so good.  These shirts are embroidered and for a one-time setup fee, I can now go back to New South Shirts any time and order additional merchandise – embroidered or screen-printed.

New South Shirts

New South Shirts

As a matter of fact, New South Shirts has been so easy to work with (love their staff!!!) that we have decided to order extra shirts to give away on Facebook.  Obviously we are trying to build up our following on FB as well so for a chance to get one of these shirts, please click here and give us a thumb’s up.

We will be hosting a special “Grand Opening” for our Facebook followers as well so stay tuned for the announcement!

What do you think?  Are you as excited as we are???

      Ladies Logoed Shirt

Ladies Logoed Shirt

Side Bar:  I have decided to dedicate Monday to blogging about Latitude Wine Bar.  I originally set up a separate blog for the wine bar, but it is just too much to keep up with and as one avid follower pointed out, Latitude Wine Bar will eventually have its own web site and won’t really need a blog dedicated to this journey.  I appreciate all of you being part of this experience and hope to one day serve you a glass of vino.

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