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New Wine Bar To Open Near Popular Liquor Retailer Independent Spirits

wineNelson Fitch was interested in wine before he was even legally allowed to drink it.

“It was always sort of a hobby,” the 26-year-old Peoria, Illinois, native said. “I had some family members who were influential in developing my interest in wine, and I’ve tried to drink it critically since I started drinking wine.”

When a part-time holiday season job opening popped up at Independent Spirits Inc. on Broadway Avenue in Edgewater about two years ago, owner Scott Crestodina brought Fitch on. That’s when Fitch’s interest in and knowledge of wine deepened.

Now, Fitch plans to open a wine bar just a couple doors down from Independent Spirits called Income Tax. The roughly 1,700-square-foot space, to be located at 5959 N. Broadway Ave., will likely open next spring.

“Customers who are happy at Independent Spirits will be happy at Income Tax,” Fitch said of the two complementary businesses. While Independent Spirits is a retailer that only sells bottles, Income Tax will serve food and beverages and no packaged goods.

Fitch’s wife is Veronica Roth, the author of the famed “Divergent” trilogy. While she is fully supportive of his plans, Fitch said this is a solo venture. Fitch said he has the support of 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman, the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce, the Edgewater Development Corp. and community groups. Approval for the planned wine bar has taken some legal wrangling, however. That’s because Income Tax will be located in an area with a moratorium on liquor sales.

Dan Luna, Ald. Osterman’s chief of staff, said members of the Income Tax team met with the surrounding block clubs prior to a community meeting held on July 20.

All block clubs sent communication to Osterman supporting the request to lift the moratorium to allow for consumption on premise, Luna wrote EVB in an email. At the community meeting, the attendees voted overwhelmingly in favor of lifting the moratorium. At the last City Council meeting on July 29, Osterman introduced an ordinance to lift the moratorium. The Committee on License & Consumer Protection will be later in September.

“I have not heard any objections to this request,” Luna added.

“Edgewater is a community that really cares about the businesses that come in,” Fitch said. He added that Crestodina, who owns Independent Spirits, went through a much longer process comparatively to have the moratorium lifted and zoning changed for his store. Independent Spirit’s good reputation, Fitch said, has aided the effort to lift the moratorium for his proposed store.

Fitch said Income Tax, which is named for a lesser-known cocktail, will offer cocktails, wines and spirits. Wines will be sold by the glass, “and all the wines will be from independent producers.”

These will include mostly Old World French and Italian wines, “but we will have a wide variety that will satisfy pretty much any palate. At the moment, there’s a lot of overlap with the Independent Spirits selection, but I’m sure we will be constantly changing it. We will be working with smaller distributors to have really quality artisanal products. That’s the sort of stuff we will stock.”

Since some bottles of wine can be served and then topped with a cork and then served again on multiple days, Fitch said he will rely on a system that uses inert gas to preserve the wine.

“So overnight, for example, the wine isn’t exposed to oxygen and that helps preserve the wine better,” he said, adding that some wines do last longer. A white wine he had recently that he opened, stopped with a cork, and then left, forgotten, in his refrigerator for a week was actually better after the long delay than it was when he first opened it, he said. “We will taste out a sample every day before we serve it. Everyone will be receiving wine in great condition.”

Fitch said the cocktail list “will be mostly Old School classic cocktails from 100 years ago. We are looking for (cocktails that are) a little lesser known. For example, the Income Tax is not hugely known.” The cocktail is traditionally a blend of gin, dry and sweet vermouth, orange and bitters, but Fitch said he has changed it up a bit.

Regarding spirits, among the more unique offerings will be Calvados, an apple brandy from Normandy, France. The spirits will all be high quality, small production special products made by special producers, he said.

The menu will include appetizers, entrees and desserts and will offer suggested wine and food pairings guided by a knowledgeable, well-trained staff.

Fitch, who received an undergraduate degree in art theory, practice and music from Northwestern University, said he is still working out the interior décor of the building. But plans are for it to be very cozy and intimate.

“It will have a faux storefront vibe,” he said. “Like during Prohibition, there would be fake businesses to hide a liquor establishment. It’s a little bit of a nod to that through the cocktail.”

 

 


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