New Wine & Beer Shop Opens in Falls Village Shopping Center
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH ...
By Dathan Kazsuk
Falls Village Wine & Beer is opening to the public just days before Thanksgiving. Ready to offer an assortment of 12-16 beers on draft as well 8 wines on draft. The wine and beer retail shop will feature over 450-plus different wines (featuring some high-end wines such as Relic, Biale, Turley and Reynolds Family) and craft beer. Falls Village Wine & Beer is brainchild of Jim Soffe – who many will remember as one of the knowledgeable wine reps with Advintage Distributing. The shop lies at the bottom corner of the Falls Village Shopping Center right next to the Raleigh CrossFit Sua Sponte. This seems to be a perfect place to unwind after a long day with a pint of beer or glass of wine. Grab a bottle of wine for the road, a 6-pack to go, or like something on the tap list? Then get a 32-ounce Crowler filled to enjoy at home.
We recently caught up with Soffe prior to the grand opening – and here are some excerpts from the interview.
So tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get your start in the business?
Well, my first restaurant job was at Margaux's Restaurant back in 2000. They knew I didn't know anything, especially about wine. Steve (Horowitz) was very cool to me. They realized I couldn't cut it as a waiter. So they wanted me to be a back-waiter, but I couldn't even see the dishes to run food (because the counter was too tall). I had to stand on my tip-toes. And that didn't work out, so I ended up busing tables. Mark Morrow actually took me under his wing, because no one else cared to train a 21-year-old about wine. There were already guys there for 10 years – some of them are still there. I opened a lot of restaurants as a waiter and bartender, and even managed quite a few of them. To this day I still miss the speed and the work involved. Then I got into the wine side, and I thought it would be great getting to connect with people. I finally put some money away, and came upon this location.
There are so many distributors out there to get your beer from, not to mention some places you can go directly to them for beer. Will you try to go out of your way to pick up some unique beers that will intrigue the high-end beer drinkers?
At first, I wanted to limit the amount of vendors that I plan on dealing with – but I'm so familiar with wine that I didn't even realize how much beer is out there, and how many small guys are out there. And these small guys have beer that I really, really want to have. I'm probably picking up around 12 extra vendors just to bring in one beer. And there are beers that I'll actually go to their warehouse myself to bring to my shop. Some of them might not be affordable beers, but the taste of these beers are paramount.
I'm sure many of these will be local beers? Will you be a big supporter of NC beer?
Of course. I will support local. It's easier to get local beers than some of the hard to find beers from out of state, obviously. Most of these local guys are friends of mine – so I want to support and celebrate a lot of their new stuff.
We always joke that you can throw a stone across town and it will hit a new bottle shop. With that being said, what will make you different than your typical beer and wine bottle shop?
I don't mind the term 'bottle shop,' but I don't want to be known as that. Mainly because I don't want to break up the packaged goods. I want to sell them as they are packaged. I've heard this question from a lot of people. And I thought about that a lot. For me, I'm treating people as guests as they come in. Everyone I've hired has a restaurant background. We are a retail shop, but I want the mentality of a restaurant. If I had the will to do it, I would put a kitchen in the back of the store. I really love that State of Beer did.
What's some words of advice you would give to someone else who wants to open a wine and beer shop similar to yours?
Patience. Patience. Patience. Not everyone is going to see your ambition. It's going to take some time. So be sure to have patience.
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