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Wine Shop

“Refectory to debut new Wine Shop
with 100 labels at all price points”

June 14, 2017   |   Dan Eaton, Columbus Business First

As several area wine retailers — most notably The Andersons — have closed, a Columbus dining institution that knows a thing or two about vino is uncorking a new business.

The Refectory is opening a small retail wine shop in its 1092 Bethel Road restaurant that its owner thinks can grow to something bigger.

“It’s going to start off very humbly in our lobby,” owner Kamal Boulos told me Wednesday. “If it catches on in the way we hope, we will add on to the building. We already have some preliminary plans.”

He expects the shop to open in July.

“Over the years we’ve built a reputation for being known for wine,” Boulos said. “It’s clearly a world we live in. We have relationships, we have the research, the knowledge.”

The restaurant has been honored by Wine Spectator with a Best of Award of Excellence every year since 2003 for its more than 600 bottle wine cellar. It is the only Central Ohio restaurant to hold that honor. It has a reputation with and connections to wineries and distributors from all around the world as well, he noted.

There certainly could be wine fans looking for a new place to shop. The Andersons, which was noted for its wine department, closed its stores in Dublin and off Brice Road. The Wine Bistro in Clintonville and Tutto Vino in Dublin are two other wine bars/stores that are now gone.

The benefit to The Refectory has been more direct than a reduction in potential competition. The four wine racks that will make up the initial shop all were purchased from The Andersons. It also hired Silvia Silver, sommelier and wine buyer for The Andersons Inc., to run its shop.

“We’ve been able to add staff,” Boulos said. “We were able to look at and buy racks in person without having to go on the internet. The racks (from The Andersons) were actually built by a guy who worked in the garden center.”

Boulos said they expect to carry more than 100 different wines at first spanning price points and styles.

“We don’t want people to think we’ll only have expensive wines,” he said. “While we’ll have that, we’ll have value wines, we’ll have closeouts. We’ll still do events at a variety of price points.”

Retail sales aren’t totally new to the business. Customers are able to buy bottles from the restaurant during its wine tasting events, which range from its 10 for $10 tastings to its Winemaker Dinners. The restaurant also has assisted customers in wine purchases for events, even ones The Refectory didn’t cater.

“This is making the activities we do in a small way more public,” Boulos said. “You don’t need a special relationship with us to purchase wine. You don’t need to dress up. If you want to dine here in the bistro or the restaurant, that’s great, but you don’t have to.”

While a retail wine shop makes for a natural business extension, the final driver of the decision was more emotional. Long-time General Manager Jeff Elasky died last year.

“Jeff and I talked about this for years,” Boulos said. “He was the architect of our list. He really took it over the top. When he passed last October, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on with anything, to be honest. But when I got my head on right, I wanted to see this come to fruition.”


Saturday Samplings!

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Old World Tour!   Saturday, July 29th   12pm-2pm

Join us for a fun, casual, wine tasting hosted on our patio (weather permitting)! Bring your friends or mingle and make new ones while discovering great deals from Europe!

Sample five wines accompanied by
a selection of cheeses, crackers, artisan breads & olive oil.

One flight (sample of each wine) – $10 

No reservations or passports required. Cash only please.

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Off the Beaten Path!   Saturday, August 12th   12pm-2pm

When it comes to red wines, the ubiquitous choices of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir, or even Tuscan Chianti can start to seem a little boring. We love those wines for good reasons, but just as with any relationship, it often helps to take a breather and try something new.

Fortunately, the wine world is ripe with alternative choices, at just about every price point imaginable. In fact, there has never been a better time to be a wine lover in search of something new. Here are a few off-the-beaten-path red wine grape varieties that can get you started on your hunt for something a bit more exotic than the normal fare on the wine store shelf.

Sample five wines accompanied by
a selection of cheeses, crackers, artisan breads & olive oil.

One flight (sample of each wine) – $12 

No reservations or passports required. Cash only please.