What every movie complex needs: an attractive little wine bar nearby where moviegoers can head after the show to sip a cabernet while they discuss what they’ve just seen on the big screen. And that’s exactly what the MJR Digital Cinemas at The Mall at Partridge Creek got when an ice cream shop moved out of the space just a few yards from the entrance, and Cellar 59 Wine Bar moved in.
It’s the culmination of a dream for a close-knit pair of sisters, Toni Talbot and Tami Kedziorek, who had long hoped to open a business. They wanted to do something to combine Kedziorek’s business sense and Talbot’s interest in hospitality and design. The women are still a bit stunned at the reaction to Cellar 59, which on some nights has been standing room only since it opened over Labor Day weekend.
The fact that their collaboration turned out to be a wine bar is somewhat coincidental. They hadn’t thought about going in that direction until a trip to Florida three years ago, where they were intrigued by an appealing wine bar. Neither professes to be a wine expert, but they are passionate students of the subject. They let the idea percolate for a while on the back burner, and then the puzzle pieces seemed to drop into place.
First, a strategic space opened at Partridge Creek. Then they found a Class C license to bring to Clinton Township. Finally, there was the help of a lot of people to make it all happen.
Among the people they credit is, first of all, Kedziorek’s husband Dan, a partner at Cellar 59, who not only financed the project but also composed the mission statement that convinced the Taubman leasing agent to award them the spot.
Dennis Bishop, whose firm, Roncelli Construction in Sterling Heights, doesn’t usually do “small” projects, agreed to do this particular one. The designers Bishop recommended for the project, Ron Rea and Roman Bonislawski of the Birmingham firm of Ron & Roman, put the women’s dream into reality, placing French doors, twinkling chandeliers, Edison bulbs, and antique barnwood beams over the marble-surfaced bar.
And certainly, Roberto Rinaldi, owner of the American company that distributes WineEmotion, who sent Ovi Daraban from Laguna Hills, Calif., to install and teach them about the system — the first in Michigan, according to the company.
The premise at Cellar 59 is simple: Wine choices include a 1.5-ounce taste, a 3-ounce half-glass, a 6- ounce glass, or a full bottle, accompanied by compatible small plates, such as artisanal bread plates with pesto spread and drizzles of balsamic vinegar, twists of phyllo dough wrapped around Brie cheese, pear, and almonds, and a selection of cheeses.
The Italian-made computerized wine preservation system allows high-end wines to be served by the glass, priced $5 to $22. But the 40 wines in the system aren’t the only pours. There are at least another 80 wines available by the glass and there are also eight Michigan beers on tap. Full bottles and wine accessories are also available for retail purchase.
The 55 available seats include café tables and chairs, perches on barstools, a communal table that is the center of frequent tastings, and even comfortable armchairs atop an Oriental rug. Customers from the neighboring Apple store are also frequent visitors, but for the most part, says Talbot, the computer crowd tends to drink beer rather than wine.
The proprietors, one of whom is almost always on hand, are devoted to the quality of the wine and food, and that also goes for the many details around the room, from the white china to the delicate Riedel stemware — which now number 20 less since Kedziorek accidentally dropped a rack of them. Undeterred, they didn’t even think about going to less expensive barware.