Wine not?

T.C. Demaresq browses for business news.

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For three years, Seven Wine Bar & Restaurant at 1579 Grafton has been striving to please local wine aficionados and casual diners alike. Their hard work recently earned them a high honour from Wine Spectator magazine, a major player in the global vine scene.

“When it comes to wine, is very highly regarded,” says Tommy Jackson, manager of Seven. “They have a restaurant awards program and there’s three tiers of goblets. It’s the same criteria worldwide, so it doesn’t matter if you’re applying from Halifax, Paris or New York, your wine list has to meet certain criteria, and it’s compared against wine lists in all cities across the world.”

While 3,000 restaurants across the globe were awarded the first tier distinction, Seven is one of only 700 restaurants to have earned the second goblet, The Best of the Award of Excellence. As well, only 57 restaurants in Canada are among their peers, and Seven is the Maritimes’ lone recipient. While the restaurant received their first goblet last year, Jackson credits Seven’s pair of sommeliers—staff wine connoisseurs—for moving them up to the next level.

“They really worked with this goal in mind,” he says. While Wine Specator boasts one final level for the cream of the crop, Jackson says that he is not focusing on reaching it anytime soon.

“We offer 500 different types of wine, but to get to that next level, you’re getting into a different type of restaurant,” he explains. “We probably hold a wine inventory of close to $300,000, and to get the third goblet, you’re looking at restaurants in Las Vegas and New York with 15,000 different types of wine and multi-million dollar cellars. We’re very happy with the second goblet. Our goal now is definitely to maintain it and always make sure that we’re able to offer good, quality wines at all different price ranges, so keeping up the breadth of our wine list is important.”

Pizza coming, art to go

We recently heard about the pending move of Gallery Page & Strange, currently in Granville Square at 1903 Barrington, and the accompanying rumour of a Boston Pizza franchise in their spot. While Crombie Properties, the developer in charge of the square’s leases, declined to comment on the city’s worst-kept secret, Victoria Strange, co-owner of the gallery, was happy to clear the air.

“We’re not being forced out or anything,” she says. “We only signed a short-term lease here. It was actually around the time when we had thought about signing a long-term lease that they told us we wouldn’t be able to because they were in negotiations with another place—Boston Pizza, although, they couldn’t really tell us that at the time.”

“We started looking for a new place and we’ve just announced our new spot—across the street! It’s a really beautiful space—it’s the old Thumpers salon. It’s a different feel and is going to allow for more inventory storage, so it’s really great.”

Strange says she and co-owner Victoria Page are doing some work on their new spot this week, and will be moving across to the east side of the square by week’s end, so they should be ready for business on Monday morning.

Turning the page

It’s been a long run for Leila Gashus, who’s been in the retail business for 25 years. But now, the owner of stationary staple The Paper Garden in the Barrington Place Shops at 1903 Barrington, is getting ready to put away her pens and pads for the last time, thanks to her pending retirement.

“I’ve been in retail for too long and I’m getting too old to stay in it,” laughs Gashus. “No, I just want to do other things. I never have time for anything else, so I’m looking forward to it. It’s about time!”

All of Gashus’ ventures (including her former boutiques Columbine and The Doll House) have called the Barrington Place Shops home, and her upcoming departure is truly the end of an era. Now in the midst of her final liquidation sale, she says her doors will stay open until all remaining stock is sold.

“It all depends on how fast we really move the merchandise,” she says. “We’ll have to wait for that.”

Rubber sole

Across the hall from DaCane Sports Surf Shop, at 5239 Blowers in the old Ecology Action Centre spot, Alex Sturm and his business partner Pat Harland sit, waiting for technical glitches to clear up so they can open up their new footwear store, Soled Out.

“We’ve had a problem with our shipping,” says Sturm. “We’ve miscalculated some duty, so we’re waiting on that. As soon as we get that, we can get our inventory up. We’ve been ready to open for two weeks, it’s just out of our hands right now.”

Sturm says he’s confident that his first business venture will be ready to open by Monday morning, and that Halifax has a niche market for their wares that’s waiting to be explored.

“We’re a small sneaker boutique, specializing in styles that come from New York,” he says. “They’re premium shoes, aimed towards anyone who’s interested in sneakers—basketball players, casual, streetwear. We offer a different range of sneakers—things that the bigger stores won’t tend to order because they think they’re not a safe bet.”

Megan Wennburg returns next week, but don’t wait to send your news. Email: shoptalk@thecoast.ca

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