After two and half years of planning and construction, one of Chapel Hill’s most successful wine bars will open its doors in Durham this month.
The West End Wine Bar and attached full-service bar The Cellar chose downtown Durham for its new location over many other options including Apex, Raleigh, Hillsborough, and Cary.
Durham branch co-owner Kevin Eastin told Bull City Rising last week that the bar is right on schedule and will open on or before April 15.
Eastin -- who managed the business's Chapel Hill location for years -- says that after months of discussions, he and his colleague Jared Resnick decided to pursue the opening of the Durham branch despite the economic downturn.
And Eastin hopes that the niche that the wine bar fills, as well as its location in West Village on Main Street, will draw business regardless of the financial challenges facing many Durhamites today.
The wine bar’s menu will have up to 60 different wines, with at least 90% of these being available by the glass. The Cellar, a full-service bar attached to the wine bar, will have beer and liquor in addition to wine selections.
On top of wine, the bar will offer a wide array of coffee products and varieties starting weekdays at 8 am and on the weekend at 11 am. Eastin notes that his baristas have been trained by the world champion barista Scott Conary, co-owner of Caffe Driade and Carrboro Coffee.
Tapas style food will be served at the wine bar, provided by Pop’s and Rue Cler, including pizzas, breads, charcuterie, and cheese plates.
Eastin hopes the environment of his bar will be relaxed and comfortable though upscale – suitable for dresses and suits or T-shirts and shorts alike. The layout of the bar will have couches and chairs in addition to tables, to provide comfortable and private accommodations for groups and couples.
The wine bar’s architect, Jack Haggerty, and the officials at West Village have been integral to successfully opening the business, Eastin said, noting that the building was just a “cold, dark shell,” structurally ready but nothing more when they began construction.
Although the Chapel Hill branch has been the flagship for the West End Wine Bar, Eastin boasts that opening in Durham has allowed the owners the freedom to design their own building and layout, unlike the edifice that they occupy in Chapel Hill. Eastin hopes that the Durham branch will propel the wine bar to opening in more locations in the future.
With the Durham Performing Arts Center and with restaurants like Revolution and Rue Cler near by, Eastin notes that he hopes the more “upscale” vibe of his wine bar will fit in nicely with downtown’s burgeoning arts and food scene.
Although paying off their loans and staying afloat financially is a concern for any new business owner, Eastin says that talking with enthusiastic Durham residents, friends, and officials has been encouraging and boosted his confidence rather than his anxiety.
“Durham is turning itself into a destination for arts, food, and wine in general," Eastin said.
The West End Wine Bar is located at 601 West Main St. and is already taking reservations for private parties and events for its second floor banquet space.