Perhaps the only thing missing is a neon sign reading “Vino Las Vegas.”
When Chris Fetfatzes and Heather Annechiarico dreamed up their newly-opened 1970s, Vegas-inspired Wine Dive on South Street, they thought of just about everything, and this place has it all.
Wildly eclectic wall decor, a retro lounge and a jukebox are just some of the charm the married couple was aiming to showcase when they opened the Wine Dive right next door to the Cambridge restaurant, which is another one of the four establishments they now own in Philadelphia.
A place where you can order a burger or nachos with your cabernet sauvignon, it’s proclaimed as the first wine dive bar in the city. And it’s exactly the type of place Fetfatzes envisioned to allow people to let off some steam after a hard day’s work.
“It’s really all an effort to bring people together,” said Fetfatzes, who also owns Two Flores at 1600 South St. and Hawthornes at 738 S. 11th St. “They can let their hair down and just celebrate the wine and the cocktails and not really care about who you are, or what your status is. This is a place to just drink some wine and have some fun.”
And though the Wine Dive set up shop on one of the trendiest streets in America at 1506 South St., its menu doesn’t resemble any type of tourist trap. With 20 wines by the glass and 215 brands by the bottle, the bar and bottle shop focuses on small independent wines, champagnes and ciders at reasonable prices.
“We work really hard with our suppliers,” Fetfatzes said. “We can’t call ourselves a wine dive and charge tourist prices. For us, we wanted to really hammer what the concept of a wine bar really is. It’s a place where people can come in a couple times a week and not break the bank. You can walk in with 20 bucks and have three glasses of wine and a burger and I don’t know too many places where you can do that.”
Make no mistake. There’s something for everyone when it comes to the variety of wine and cocktails. For those seeking a more adventurous prize at a higher price, the bar also offers an upscale portion on the menu.
“We do have spend-worthy glasses up to 20 bucks a glass,” Fetfatzes said. “And beers go anywhere from $2.50 to 11 bucks.”
The Wine Dive’s bottle shop resembles a comfy nursery, with a hand-crafted note wrapped around every bottle, explaining the contents and ingredients. It’s an involved effort tasked by a handful of extremely friendly employees, hoping to match the perfect bottle with the perfect customer. It can be used as a helpful guide for the novice wine drinker.
“We wanted it to be approachable,” Fetfatzes said. “We don’t want people to walk in here feeling dumb. We don’t want them to feel intimidated. We don’t want them feeling out of place. So our wine shop is designed that way where people can leisurely stroll in and check out the labels themselves and educate themselves. It’s done in an unpretentious way. There’s nobody standing over you.”
Although Fetfatzes certainly does have the credentials to offer some advice as a wine expert. The son of Portuguese and Greek immigrants, Fetfatzes traveled to various wine-rich regions around the globe.
“It’s in our blood,” he said. “I grew up with wine at the dinner table. I’ve toured wineries, made wine as a child.”
Wine connoisseurs will enjoy the wide bottle selection. Non-wine drinkers can indulge in the atmosphere and the food.
The 2,500-square-foot space features a 17-foot bar, seating for up to 50 guests, Vegas ‘70s decor found mostly in local thrift shops and a jaw-dropping cat mural in the bathroom. The jukebox gets you three songs for a dollar, and executive chef Derek Cantwell serves up a selection of bar bites, sandwiches and salads.
“We wanted to do something different and we wanted to put it on its head,” Fetfatzes said. “I want to eat something like a fried chicken sandwich and have a glass of wine. Not many places have that range and can do that. So we said we’re going to do it and build a place off of what we want in a wine bar. We work our tails off, and I want to have a glass of wine somewhere afterwards where I don’t feel like I have to be proper. I want to be myself. Most neighborhood bars have that, and we wanted to extend that to wine.”