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Corkbar Adds a Neighborhood Bar for South Park

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, March 10, 2009, at 02:34PM
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Despite challenging economic times, the owners of new South Park wine bar Corkbar are convinced they've got a plan for success. With a concept aimed at bringing the winery tasting experience to Downtown, they want Corkbar to become a spot for locals to interact and learn about California wines.

The bar celebrated its opening this past Thursday night, hosting around five hundred patrons over the course of the evening.

The wine bar is the product of five partners, several of whom had known each other from advertising and marketing firm Chiat\Day. Managing partner Caleb Wines -- yes, that's really his name -- is joined by General Manager Garry Muir, Craig Hoffman, Chris Schiffman and John McGonigle.

While the group started exploring the Downtown market nearly two years ago, it wasn't until late October that they executed their lease in the ground floor of the South Group's new condo tower Evo, located at 12th and Grand.

Architect Anna Henton of MASS Architecture & Design used the space's 24-foot-high ceiling to full advantage, installing staggered wooden shelves behind the bar and filling them with colored glass bottles. Wood is Corkbar's dominant element. The tabletops are made from reclaimed eucalyptus, elm and hickory provided by woodworker Chris Taus. The bar has 2,200 square feet inside and 800 square feet of patios. Ceiling-high windows give the spot lots of daytime light, which Hoffman notes gives the bar "two unique feels and vibes" between day and night.

With Corkbar, the partners wanted to create a wine bar concept that wasn't pretentious and snobby. Their 40+ wines are sourced from California wineries, and the food is prepared using locally fresh ingredients.

Prices range from $9 - $20 for wine by the glass. Muir believes that's in line with what the market will support. "We tried our best to really make a price point that's affordable to everyone," he told blogdowntown. Whether Downtown drinkers agree in today's economic climate remains to be seen.

While it opens as the only wine bar in South Park, Corkbar should soon be joined by Bottlerock, located just two blocks away at 11th and Hope. That wine bar signed its deal long before Corkbar, a fact Muir and Hoffman were unaware of at the time. That doesn't mean they're upset about the proximity. "We're trying to make this a pedestrian neighborhood," Hoffman said. "The more, the merrier."

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