Chef Greg Vernick, expanding his empire yet again, has headed next door to his popular Vernick Food & Drink on Walnut Street to open a wine and retail shop that doubles as private-dining space.
Vernick Wine occupies the 19th-century Italianate rowhouse at 2029 Walnut St., which was a real estate office before housing the lounges Monkey Bar and Strongbox and, most recently, a swish tea salon called La Petite Dauphine. It will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Vernick, at 2031 Walnut St., has been busting at the seams since its 2012 opening, said Vernick, who operates the restaurant with his wife, Julie, and general manager Ryan Mulholland. The restaurant, typically booked for weeks, also cannot accommodate large parties because of the way the dining rooms are configured and the potential for noise to disturb other patrons, Vernick said.
The new Wine can seat up to 32 people at a table that expands with a series of leaves, and can be accessed from Vernick Food & Drink or through its own front door. Both entrances are up a small flight of stairs because the main floors are at different elevations.
Vernick’s crew punched a hole in the party wall and installed a kitchen and additional refrigeration and storage that will benefit the entire restaurant. They also revamped the high-ceilinged room, which now features an ornate black ceiling, restored wood floor, and cream walls with artwork from Yvonne Gordon Moser, Mulholland’s mother.
The walls are lined with shelves that hold about 100 wines for sale from all over the world. The list, for now, is separate from that of Vernick Food & Drink and was developed by Vernick wine director Ray Gazdzinski with help from store manager Briton Alonso.
Operationally, this is much like Talula’s Table in Kennett Square, which has a cafe and retail shop plus private seating that can be booked in off-hours.
The idea for the new spot came to Vernick years ago when he and his wife visited Drifters Wife in Portland, Maine, which is a wine shop and restaurant. “We liked the idea of eating in a wine shop,” Vernick said.
There is no plan to use the room as additional à la carte seating to ease the crush at Vernick Food & Drink. Besides private events, which will be handled by the new kitchen, Wine plans to create special events that the public can attend.
Menus will be inspired by the food served next door by chef de cuisine Robert Newcomb and pastry chef Michael O’lone.
See more, including a video, here.