Owners raise the bar with Oliver's
Tom Quanrud and Brian Schneider find themselves back home along West Third Street with Oliver's Wine Bar. A few storefronts down from the former Lily's Coffee House & Flowers, Oliver's Wine Bar has Quanrud and Schneider exactly where they'd like to be.
"The idea of Oliver's came from us wanting to establish an environment that we missed in the community," Schneider said. "After having Lilly's for 10 years, we missed the interaction and the people we saw on a daily basis."
The response from the community after the sale of Lily's in 2008 echoed Quanrud and Schneider's longing. "Since Lily's closed, we were continually being asked to do something again," Quanrud said.
The concept of their next dining venture evolved over two years of discussions, they said.
"We knew we wanted something comfortable and approachable," Quanrud said. "When this space became available, we knew it was a perfect fit."
Previously a Hallmark retail store, the building nestled at the intersection of West Third and Bush streets, has taken on new life.
"We worked with Gadient Brothers Construction for about 10 months," Schneider said. "They did a great job helping us transform the space."
The restaurant is neatly split into three areas; the bar, a middle seating area, and a gallery and event space.
"We have art throughout the restaurant," Schneider said. "Works from regional artists will be featured and available for purchase." One piece of artwork with special significance is an Art Kenyon original of Quanrud and Schneider's dog, Oliver. "He is the inspiration for the name," Quanrud said.
The goal for Oliver's Wine Bar, Quanrud and Schneider said, is to be a comfortable and causal space for people to gather with friends and family, with the menu following suit.
"We wanted to have something for everyone, so we geared towards comfort foods with a twist," Quanrud said. Formerly a Spanish teacher, Quanrud's studies led him to spending time abroad in Spain and Italy. Influences from these countries can be found on the menu.
"I wanted to introduce people to these cultures that I love and give them a little taste of different cuisine without being too exotic," Quanrud said.
An impressive bar more than 40 feet long hosts 35 domestic and imported beers and many wines. Quanrud and Schneider anticipate offering outdoor seating on the Third Street side this July.
"We should have seating for about 40 along the sidewalk," Schneider said.
Oliver's Wine Bar is a project 17 years in the making. From their first Red Wing business, Lily's, to Inspired Home & Flower Studio, Quanrud and Schneider have become trusted downtown business owners, customers say.
"The initial responses to Oliver's have been amazing," Schneider said. "We are overwhelmed by the support from this community."
For casual comfort in the heart of downtown, Oliver's delivers. "While traveling, we once saw a sign that said, 'If you pour it, they will come,’ it's a great motto" Schneider said.
"We hope with the addition of Oliver's and other great local businesses nearby, we can revitalize the downtown scene," Quanrud added.
Oliver's Wine Bar opens at 4p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with the kitchen serving until 9 p.m. Visit www.oliverswinebar.com for menus and wine lists.