Lexington, KY – Burk Kessinger’s Wines on Vine has called Old Vine Street home for around a decade. He’s even called it home for a few years too, after moving into a condo above his wine shop and bistro. But now he’s expanding with the addition of the Wines on Vine Tavern in a space adjacent to the wine shop.
“I’ve been percolating the idea for a while, because a lot of people like to come to drink. In the summer if the patio’s open, it is not a problem, but when the patio’s not open in the winter, the drinkers and diners collide. I don’t want anybody to feel like we don’t want both,” he said while showing off his new space that is currently under construction.
“How would we have room for both groups?” he recalled pondering. “This opened up and it solved the problem, knock on wood,” he said while tapping on reclaimed barn wood that will adorn the bar in a space that formerly housed Oliva Bella.
Kessinger said the new venue, which he plans to open by the end of July, will have up to eight beers on tap, with another 90 or so bottled and canned brews available in coolers. He’ll incorporate live music into the new space, something he said he’s been interested in previously but which didn’t fit the dining atmosphere of the Wines on Vine Bistro.
His tavern is just the latest of recent additions to the creamy yellow building at 400 Old Vine. Earlier in June, men's clothier Howard & Miller opened its store, and Thursday saw the official grand opening of period and antique jeweler St. John and Myers.
Jeff Miller, owner of Howard & Miller, said he had the option to stay in Victorian Square when he was asked to relocate for the addition of a Saul Good restaurant on the corner of Broadway and Short. But he opted to leave rather than take a second floor space in the shopping center the store had been in for 27 years.
Miller said he worked out a deal with his landlord to extend his stay at Victorian Square by a month so he wouldn’t be closed before opening on Old Vine.
“I was selling stuff off a rack that I had loaded up in the old store, but we only missed a couple of days,” he said.
So far Miller said he’s getting used to a different traffic pattern that sees fewer people happening upon the store during the day, but he’s considering changes in hours to match up with popular nights at Wines on Vine.
“It turned out good with how the fit-up turned out. We’re liking the parking right out front and we like the neighbors,” he said.
And the neighbors like Howard & Miller.
Louis Scholz and Olivia Johnson Scholz, founders of St. John and Myers, said they were happy to see regular customers in attendance at their grand opening on June 20 walk away and come back in carrying a bag from one of their neighboring shops.
“If you’re looking for a gift, the more options you give somebody, the better chance you have to go shop there,” Johnson Scholz said. “If you can buy a bottle of wine, a tie or a set of cufflinks, you’re creating a spot where people will come.”
Scholz said the pair decided to move last year into the former Surgener Jewelers location from their shop in South Elkhorn Village to be more central to their customers.
On top of that, Johnson Scholz said the building better complements their product.
“The exterior, I think, matches what you’ll find in the cases on the interior,” she said. “When we were in a strip mall, it was beautiful but modern, and you’d walk in and see antiques.”
Kessinger is happy to have his new neighbors and the building, which has undergone a facelift in recent years.
“It’s a fun old building,” Kessinger said. “The owner has done a really good job making it over and bringing in nice tenants. It’s been really enjoyable. If I don’t go broke at Howard and Miller, I’ll be OK,” he said with a smile, while wearing clothes similar to those on the shelf next door.