WALLINGFORD — Plans for a second wine bar in the center of town is part of a continuing trend transforming the area into a destination for those looking to spend the night out.
Earlier this week, Deana Morin received approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals to open a wine and cheese bar called 65 Brix at 65 S. Colony St. (Route 5). She has a verbal agreement to lease 1,800-square-feet at the same address as The Eatery, a catering business and deli, and The Crush Club, a wine -making business. Since she still has to obtain permits and renovate, Morin doesn’t expect to open until next year, she said.
Morin, a North Haven resident, said part of the reason she chose the town is its two vineyards and because the center of town continues to gain a reputation as a destination for those looking to enjoy a night out. The new wine bar would be located on Route 5, just south of its intersection with Center Street.
In the uptown area, renovation work to turn a long-vacant landmark building into a wine bar, restaurant and venue for community events is ongoing. Local developer Joe Gouveia, also owner of Gouveia Vineyard, purchased the 19th century building at 60 N. Main St. in 2013. Gouveia’s goal is to open by early October.
Construction on the old public library building began last September, and has taken longer than expected. Gouveia originally hoped to open in May. It has been gutted and work to rejuvenate the inside has begun, Gouveia said. On Thursday, crews had started painting the interior. He has hired two chefs and ordered tables and chairs. A handicap ramp has been installed and bricklayers were working on the front steps last week.
Plans for a second winer bar “is a plus,” for the area, Gouveia said.
Downtowns used to be the “center of people’s leisure time,” said Tim Ryan, the town’s economic specialist, but transformed into centers of commerce, including banks, insurance companies, food markets, hardware and clothing stores. While there is still traditional commerce, the town center seems to be reverting back into a relaxation destination, Ryan said, pointing to the abundance of restaurants.
“Wine bars are the same type of thing,” he said. “People in their mind say let’s go out and relax; let’s go downtown to the wine bar and go get dinner. “
Wines has become more affordable and “attractive to everyone right now,” Morin siad.
“Wine is on its kick,” she said. “I hope it stays that way.”
Besides Gouveia, the Ruggiero family operates Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery on Wind Swept Hill Road. Wineries attract people into town from across the state, Ryan said.
Besides wine, Morin said, she plans to offer cheese from area farms.
“Customers can come in, have a glass of wine, and fall in love with their favorite cheese,” Morin said.
Since The Eatery next door offers sandwiches, she will only sell small cheese plates, coffee and desserts so as not to compete, Morin said. She might also sell local beers. Morin said she hopes having The Crush Club nearby can help business.
“The more choices people have, the more they will think of coming downtown when they think of leisure.” Ryan said.