John Tesar's new restaurant in One Arts Plaza will feature the area's first keg wine program, an innovation the busy chef says is in keeping with his vision for The Commissary.
Wine on tap, catching on at wine bars elsewhere, is currently available locally only at Central Market, but Tesar says the program makes good sense for a restaurant designed to reach customers who appreciate good food and drink as well as fair prices.
"When people hear keg wine, they think of box wine, but it's not that," Tesar clarifies, explaining that wine makers who've struggled to sell bottles during the recession have begun barreling their residual product. "If a glass of Stag's Leap from a bottle cost you $9 a glass, I can sell it for $7."
In addition to providing the economic benefits conferred by volume, kegs are also designed to avert spoilage and enhance temperature control.
"Most bars, unless they're really careful, you're getting an old glass of wine from a bottle," Tesar says.
The space formerly occupied by Dali isn't big enough to allow Tesar to stock dozens of wine kegs, but he will keep one red and one white on tap at all times. The selection will change frequently, and he stresses the kegs aren't only for bargain hunters: He's planning to seek out an array of boutique wines.
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Bottled wine will also be available, along with a burger-driven menu that he hopes will appeal to downtown workers and late-night diners who are looking for a more affordable meal than what's offered elsewhere in the plaza.
"We looked at what was different and what was needed," says Tesar, who's obviously pleased to have the enthusiastic support of the development's management. Tesar says the One Arts crowd has been sympathetic to his desire to create a space that's "more youthful" and "bohemian," in a city where "everything's so glossy and over-the-top."
Tesar's grand plans call for patio dining, monthly wine dinners, a weekly chef's table, ongoing wine tastings, a hot dog cart, office delivery service, service industry nights, children's birthday parties and take-away for students at nearby Booker T. Washington High School. The restaurant's slated to open in early April.
"It's full speed ahead," Tesar says