With all the talk of Park Slope losing the mom and pop stores and going the corporate chain route, it is comforting to know that some locally owned businesses like Slope Cellars, the wine shop on Seventh Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets, are thriving. There’s a simple reason why.
Slope Cellars is more than a booze outlet. Yes, they sell great “cheap and tasty” wine, but it has become the stop-in-for-a-chat, hey-what’s-up-in-the-neighborhood store that everyone craves.
Bob and Patty Lenartz have owned Slope Cellars since 2000, and their business plan includes ways to connect to the neighborhood. Patty (who is from California) and Bob (a Navy brat) support local schools, teams and cultural events. They are a dog- and stroller-friendly store that always welcomes the customer and makes him feel part of the cool club.
Before the Lenartz duo bought the store, it was a Plexiglas-enclosed horror. All the bottles and the cashier were behind the glass. There was a little hole through which you paid, and a door that would swing around so the clerk could pass you the bottle.
“Bob got the idea to buy the store after he stopped in to get some wine for cooking. The place was so empty, we just figured the guy would sell,” Patty recently told me. Ten minutes later, after Bob reminded Patty that she could bring her dog to work and travel to Europe on the company dime, she agreed. Patty had been freelance writing and Bob had been hating his Wall Street job, so it seemed like a good time to make a change.
Step one? Rip out that Plexiglas. Step two: a crash course on wine.
When it comes to wine, I know what I like, but I don’t know what it is called. I never know what to ask for, and I do not understand the vernacular of wine. But Patty and Bob make it easy. Not only do the use color-codes, but they don’t treats me like a novice.
Their laid back, helpful nature is Park Slope at its best. And while it’s appealing to leave with a good bottle of wine, it’s even better to find out what is going into that vacant storefront down the block.
Slope Cellars is now in its seventh year, they have been through good times and bad.
“That is the thing about the wine business — people drink for every reason,” says Bob. “A snowstorm, a national disaster, a graduation or a wedding — people come in and buy.”
Me? I love it there, and I sometimes go in just to say hello. Slope Cellars is proof that small businesses can succeed with the right mix of service, style and good Syrah.
The Kitchen Sink
It’s “unity” time again, that time of the year when the NYPD’s Brooklyn South patrol officers make themselves available to the people they’ve sworn to protect and serve. This year’s meet-and-greet will be at Bartel-Pritchard Square (at Prospect Park West and 15th Street) in Park Slope on April 22 at 11 am. Come one and all: our officers deserve your salute. Plus, there’ll be games and food. …
Berkeley Carroll — arts incubator? Looks that way, now that 25 students received awards from the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, a national group. The school was the most-recognized institution in the country. We can’t wait to read Julia Harris’s top-prize-winning humor piece. …
Our pal Lenore Arons is making breast cancer a one-woman crusade. She’s walked The Walk, but now she’s going around to Slope restaurants asking them to contribute one night’s profits to fight the disease. We’ll help by printing the names of the do-gooding eateries in an upcoming issue. For now, e-mail Arons, a Lincoln Place resident, at email@example.com.