It’s hard enough to open a bar or restaurant in normal times. How will you get people in the door? How will you make them feel comfortable and satisfied? How will you get them to come back? Add the fear of coronavirus to the equation, when many people are still afraid of patronizing businesses they love — forget the ones they haven’t heard of yet — and the prospect of a grand opening can seem formidable to say the least.
But Provision, a new wine bar and general store in Fairhope, is taking its chances.
The shop, located at 100 N. Section St., opened its doors May 19. The 7,500-square-foot space includes a coffee shop, café, wine bar and market stocked with artisanal foods, specialty bottles of alcohol, home décor and gifts. You can order a glass of wine at the bar and carry it with you while you browse the shelves.
William Hanes, who owns Provision with his wife, Elisabeth, said they had been constructing the concept since December 2019, and while they pushed back the opening a few weeks, they felt like now was the right time to officially open.
“People have been really excited and supportive,” William said. “We’re taking precautions to try to create a safe space. One plus is that the space is really large and spread out. We are all wearing masks and we try to keep the door open.”
The couple, who live in Fairhope, came up with the idea for Provision after working together at Blackberry Farm, a luxury resort with a James Beard Award-winning restaurant in the Great Smoky Mountains. They were also inspired by Modica Market, a specialty grocery in Seaside, Florida. They thought about all the things they love — drinking wine and eating nice chocolate, being surrounded by beautiful interior home décor — and built a place where you could get it all.
“We really want it to feel like we’re inviting people into our home, which is their home,” William said. “We’re locals and we really care about our town and we want to offer it something beautiful and new and interesting.”
According to him, Provision has already become an all-day hangout, where people come in for a morning latte and almond croissant, settle into a couch to do work or school assignments, and then close out their day with a glass of Zinfandel and some light snacks, before heading home with a box of small-batch pasta. “And that’s exactly the way we envisioned it,” he said.
Wine Director Christina Quick curated the vino selection. They have staples from around the world like pinot noir and Champagne, plus vermouth, sherry and some unusual wine varieties that customers may not have tried before, William said. The bar also offers a wine club, with various tiers depending on how many bottles you’d like per month. For example, the $130 a month “Host” level includes six bottles, access to special events and a 15 percent discount off of retail purchases (excluding alcohol) in the market. The bottles are chosen at the discretion of the wine director, based on her recommendations and customers’ requests.
William said they took it one day at a time while gauging when to open and they’ll continue to take it one day at a time moving forward.
“The whole world was changing very quickly [during construction] and it was clear that there were going to be some major changes, but it was impossible to know exactly what those would be,” he said. “And in some ways that’s still impossible to know.”
Alyson Sheppard is Lagniappe’s resident hangover specialist and Boozie’s most unreliable Baldwin County spy. Find her on Twitter: @amshep.
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