New wine bar keeps history alive - Republic-Times | News

New wine bar keeps history alive

By on November 29, 2017 at 1:58 pm

Pictured during last week’s ribbon-cutting for Vintage Wine Bar are owners Justin Schmidt (holding scissors) and his wife, Britney; parents Lonny and Pat Schmidt; and Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith with other family members, friends and Waterloo Chamber of Commerce members. (Kermit Constantine photo)


High quality, superior and well-aged are different qualifiers used when describing a wine as vintage.

Starting out, the new Vintage Wine Bar in Waterloo will stick to the basics. But eventually, its owners plan to live up to this standard and more. 

After opening last Wednesday, the establishment now serves Washington Cabernet, Pinot Noir and New Zealand varieties, among other selections. Meat and cheese, bread and oil, and small pizzas will serve as the main fare.

“We have a lot of New World wines as of now because people around here will be more familiar with them,” owner Justin Schmidt explained. “The Old World wine — the French stuff — would be a tough sell because there’s not a big selection in the area.”

Pictured inside the new Vintage Wine Bar in Waterloo, from left, are owners Justin, Britney, Lonny and Pat Schmidt. (Kermit Constantine photo)

Additionally, Justin said he hopes to appeal to those who aren’t as passionate or are on the fence about drinking wine.

“If someone is into it, we do have a few options that are kind of introductory. We can give them something easy,” he said. “Something to begin with. Once you get into it, drinking wine can be really fun.”

Justin is partnering with several co-owners to run the business – his wife Britney, mother Pat, and father Lonny – but has put much of the sweat equity into crafting the bar and renovating the inside of the facility at 212 S. Main Street.

The Waterloo native repurposed wood from barns and cabins in the Midwest and a few southern states for the ceiling support beams and the bar. Additionally, Justin saved bricks he tore up from the streets of St. Louis and has used them for flooring behind the bar.

He has also made use of material coming from the facility itself. For example, Justin said some of the wood panels making up the ceiling originally came from the floor of part of the space.

“I’ve never done this kind of work before but I saw some pictures online of what other people are doing. It’s neat that they’re taking history and creating similar projects,” he said. “And that’s kind of what this is.”

The space Vintage Wine Bar is occupying certainly has its history in downtown Waterloo, having served as many other businesses dating back to the early 1800s. Some research shows the bar was three different luncheonettes in the late 1950s and early 1960s before becoming Donna’s Cafe in 1964.

In addition, it served as Al’s Tire Store in 1929, Kermie’s Grocery Store in 1932, Willie’s Meat Shop in 1969, Burmeister Shoe Shop, The Shoe Box, The Electric Outlet Family Arcade in the early 1980s, an Edward Jones office from 1990 to 2000 and was most recently a nail salon. 

Hours of operation for Vintage Wine Bar are 4 p.m. to midnight Fridays, 1 p.m. to midnight Saturdays, and 1 to 8 p.m. Sundays. More information is at Vintage Wine Bar on Facebook. While not yet operational, the phone number will be 939-VINE (8463).

A recent Facebook post described the grand opening as a success and thanked those who came to show their support. 

“All of us at Vintage Wine Bar are so thankful for all of you who joined in our grand opening last night,” the post reads. “What a night! We hope everyone had a great time and that you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving!”

Alongside that, Justin said he was surprised to see such a great response from the community.

“I didn’t think we would get a response like that. There (were) constantly people coming up to the window wanting to peek inside,” he said. “The community has been very supportive.”

Sean McGowan

Sean is a die-hard Cubs fan, despite the relentless peer pressure coming from the rest of the Republic-Times staff. He and his wife, Jacqui, have been married for two years. Originally from the west suburbs of Chicago, Sean and his wife moved down to Normal to attend Illinois State University and stayed central Illinois residents for the past four years. email:sean@republictimes.net