Vroman Le 1894 wine and beer bar gears up for February opening – Pasadena Star News
Wandering through a bookstore can be one of the best ways to pass your time, but you know what could make it even better? Have beer, wine and snacks to go along with all those good books.
Well, it only took 125 years, but Vroman’s added a beer and wine bar to its offering, which includes two floors filled with books, stationery, gifts, toys and a cafe.
The beer and wine bar, called The 1894, is named in honor of the year the bookstore opened.
So why now?
The store’s outgoing president and CEO, Allison K. Hill, said in an interview last year that the wine bar represented a step into the future, adding a new dimension that matched the identity of the store as a community center. (Julia Cowlishaw has been named to replace Hill, who is leaving to become CEO of the American Booksellers Association on March 1.)
Bentley Hale, the bar manager from 1894, agreed. “I think for Vroman they always try to be more than just a bookstore,” she said. “It’s more than just a wine bar; it’s more about the whole experience.
Hale, who grew up in La Crescenta, comes to the new company after a 20-year career in restaurants large and small that began when she was in high school. Since then, she has focused on wine education and events with her Sip Happens Wine School, and she wants to bring that educational element to 1894.
“I really want to focus a lot on wine flights and offer tasting instead of full glasses so people can really taste and can explore the wine list and not have to commit to just one glass,” says Hale, who adds that she plans to “focus on local with both craft beer and wine.”
If you’ve visited Vroman’s recently, you’ve noticed the newly unveiled space and likely heard customers asking when it will be open. This date had originally been planned for the end of last year, but after making some final adjustments and obtaining the necessary permits, the bar should open in early February.
“There are always challenges that you overcome; I expected that,” Hale said. “It worked out for the best; it’s spring and that gives people exciting things to look forward to.
Located on the ground floor of the bookstore near its fiction shelves, the space can accommodate around 40 customers at the bar and tables. The menu offers both beer and wine flights, as well as wines by the pour, by the glass, and by the bottle. There are draft and bottled beers, ciders, kombucha, and a variety of mocktails and other beverages. And there are shared snacks, plates and desserts, as well as wine and beer pairings.
The menu also includes so-called session cocktails, low-alcohol concoctions that use things like sake, vermouth, and sparkling wine as a base instead of hard liquor.
“Our fun cocktails are all literary-themed,” said Hale, who offers drinks inspired by Mark Twain and Maya Angelou and aims to host literary nights. “I want to have fun.”
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