The Wine Club in Rainhill, near St Helens in Merseyside, has taken on a second premises just a few doors away from the original shop.
This longed-for expansion will allow its owners, sisters Danielle Milnes and Rochelle Garbutt, to quadruple their wine range.
“We did well in the first year that we opened , with the cheese and charcuterie platters,” explains Garbutt. “But we decided that the only way we would build the business, especially during lunchtime midweek, was to try and expand the menu, so we had to think about a hot food option.”
Plans for a pizza oven were soon underway but first the business had to survive the pandemic. The sisters furloughed their staff and set about fulfilling hundreds of orders for wine and platters, eventually engaging the help of their family.
“It was insane,” reports Garbutt, “but it massively grew our online presence because people were getting the wine and the platters and sharing them on Instagram and Facebook. We went from about 1,000 followers to 5,000.”
By the time the Eat Out to Help Out initiative was in full swing, the pizza oven was fired up, and a Verre de Vin was installed. “Every single wine on our list is available by the glass, right up to Champagne,” says Garbutt. “Our team is really well trained and Danielle and I are there all the time so it’s really easy to talk to customers about the wines and get them to try new things.”
They also invested £18,000 on a huge weather-proof parasol which, complete with heating and lighting options, has doubled the capacity of the original shop. Garbutt says: “It’s already paying for itself because on Friday and Saturday nights we are completely full.
“The new shop will have the wine shop in the front with spirits and a gift box service and back of house will be the takeaway food service and delivery section.
“The current Wine Club will be solely for in-house dining,” she continues. “The extra space means we will really be able to extend the wine range. I’ve always struggled with holding the variations of wine that people want and ask for.
“Now we’ve got much more scope and we can have a natural wine selection and an English wine selection and we’ll have a lot more space for mixed cases ready to go.”