Historically speaking, when opening a new restaurant, owners wouldn’t typically plan for a pandemic. If there’s anything we’ve learned during COVID-19, it’s that optimizing a store for service during an international health crisis may be the new normal. Such is the case for Michelle Bonds, owner of Trova Wine and Market.
Trova, which will open July 16, was originally set to open in the spring, but her plans were halted by the coronavirus. Trova is Bonds’ first venture, so, as she says, she was unprepared to alter her plans completely.
“I have the luxury of having no basis for comparison,” Bonds says. “I’m just trying to get up and running at this point. This is not how I pictured opening, at a small capacity with a mask on my face.
“The response could be, ‘Why are you opening in the middle of all this?’ but the truth is, this process has been going on for years. You get to a point where you have contractors to pay, rent to pay, bills to pay, and you really have no choice but to try to make some sales as safely as possible. I would rather not be opening during a pandemic, but this is the world we live in right now.”
Before they came to Dallas, Bonds and her husband lived in Chicago and Argentina. Those two places were where she looked for inspiration when she first began to conceive ideas for Trova.
When she arrived in Dallas, she worked in marketing for Pizza Hut’s corporate office. After playing around with the idea of her own place for years, she decided to leave to pursue Trova. Although she had no idea the world would be struck by a global pandemic, she has no regrets about her change in career.
“It will never be the right time,” Bonds says. “But you will be able to justify it anyway. If it’s something you want to do, take the plunge and lean on the people you trust. They will be excited to help you and support you.”
With Trova, Bonds wants to make wine accessible to more people. She plans to pair each wine with light bites and create a fun, educational experience.
“The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it’s really hard to [explore wine] in a restaurant setting,” Bonds says. “I really wanted to kind of flip that model on its head and give people an environment where it was OK to approach things backwards and have a journey through wine.”
When choosing the location, Bonds wanted Trova to be accessible to those who commute by car or by public transportation. She liked how close The Plaza at Preston Center was to the Dallas North Tollway and DART stations.
She also wanted something that could be enjoyed at any time of day.
“Sometimes it’s 2 p.m. and you just want a glass of wine and a snack, and not a full meal,” Bonds says. “I thought, ‘What a great addition to the center.’”
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With Trova, Bonds aims to offer guests a safe environment, where people can learn about a variety of wines from all over the world. Trova’s staff will wear masks and only open the restaurant to 50% capacity.
Although she does not expect to be able to open at full capacity in the near future, Bonds plans to use this time as an “extended soft opening” to perfect her business model. More than anything, she wants Trova to be a place where guests can expect excellent service and complete comfort.
“Wine is a very intimidating subject,” Bonds says. “There’s just so much to learn. It’s ever-changing and ever-evolving. I don’t want anyone to feel scared to ask a question of any kind, no matter how simple.”
Trova Wine and Market, 4004 Villanova St. (The Plaza at Preston Center). Planned to open July 16.