If your creature comforts during the pandemic have included chocolate, wine, or sweets, chances are Strongsville-based Wine Down & Sweets may already be on your speed dial. During the COVID-19 crisis, the café-bakery-wine bar has been offering “Wine Plus” packages filled with treats like chocolate-covered Oreos, truffles, chocolate-covered pretzels, cupcakes, smoked Gouda chips, and naturally, bottles of wine.
“We had adjusted our hours initially, offering take-out and curbside service, but it was still the beginning [of the pandemic] and customers weren’t receptive to the concept,” says owner Tammy Phillip. “We decided to shut down for a week and restructure, and when we reopened, we created the Wine Plus packages.”
Currently, the shop is open select hours on Fridays and Saturdays for package pickup, but Phillip is preparing a soft reopening for dine-in customers on Monday, June 1. Since Wine Down & Sweets has a large floor plan, Phillip feels confident about the ability to adjust for safe table spacing and social distancing. Additionally, high-touch surfaces will be cleaned hourly, employees will wear masks, and hand sanitizer will be on hand for customer and staff use.
“After being closed for weeks, we’re all concerned about what to expect,” says Phillip, adding that all employees are ServSafe certified. “We want to assure our customers that we are taking extra precautions for their safety.”
For those who may not yet be comfortable dining in, Phillip plans to continue offering curbside pickup and take-out options, as well as expanding and continuing the Wine Plus offerings into summer. This weekend, Wine Down & Sweets will offer four Memorial Day-themed packages, and Phillip plans to start exploring partnerships with local businesses to include their products in the future.
“The weekly packages we’ve created have been well-received,” says Phillip, adding that they’ve sold about 100 in the last few weeks.
For Phillip, it’s about being adaptable and meeting customers where they are. “We hope to continue to grow through word-of-mouth referrals and sustain long-term survival,” says Phillip. “These are uncharted times and we plan to adjust and adapt as new trends are happening.”
We’ll raise a glass to that.
–Jen Jones Donatelli
Read the other entries in our Restaurant Reopening Diaries series: