Looking for a location to open a wine-tasting bar, Cesar and Courtney Peņa of Winfield found a spot in downtown Lombard partly as a result of traffic -- both good and bad.
Their shop, The Vino Cellar, will sponsor a free grand opening event from 3 to 10 p.m. Nov. 30 at the location they found as a result of all that traffic at 141 W. St. Charles Road.
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"We had decided to take a drive through downtown Lombard because we heard the area was up-and-coming. Not only that, but Roosevelt Road was really backed up, so we decided to take St. Charles back" to Winfield, Cesar Peņa said. "We realized all the traffic and all the potential that downtown Lombard had."
A couple months later, still on the hunt for the right spot to open the wine-tasting business of their dreams, the Peņas visited downtown Lombard on a summer Saturday night during one of the Cruise Nights events.
"What really sealed the deal and clinched it for us was coming down and taking a look at the Cruise Nights and how vibrant and really how busy the street was," Peņa said. "We wanted to be in a community that's united and cares about its downtown."
The Peņas had one other Lombard connection: a long-standing friendship with Dan and Colleen Whittington, residents and volunteer members of Lombard Town Centre, which promotes the downtown area. The Whittingtons helped the Peņas make contact with staff at the village to get permits in place, and Lombard Town Centre Executive Director Michelle Iwinski said their assistance was key in bringing the new business to the Lilac Village.
"This is the first business that's come in through our own efforts," Iwinski said.
The Whittingtons worked to bring The Vino Cellar to Lombard not only because its owners are friends, but also because Lombard leaders long had been eyeing a wine-themed shop for the business district centered around St. Charles Road, Park Avenue and Main Street, Colleen said.
"It's neat when people come together over certain hobbies and to be able to bring an entire business to a community that so many more people can enjoy," she said.
The Vino Cellar is the seventh new business to open this year in downtown Lombard, following Desert Rose Design, The Corner House, Shannon's Deli, Fringe Salon, Randall Bullen Photography and Realty Group Company Ltd. An eighth shop, FairyTales Inc., expanded to a larger location after the closing of Morningstar Books & Gifts.
The Vino Cellar will be open from noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday featuring wines from the Pacific Northwest. Peņa said he, his wife and three other employees will offer weekly tastings, private event rentals and wine education as customers sample different drinks in "a relaxed atmosphere."
"It's a really high-end concept," Iwinski said.
Suburban wine enthusiasts such as the Peņas and Whittingtons are creating a growing interest in shops like the Vino Cellar, Peņa said.
"Wine shops and wine-tasting bars for the most part have been relegated to the bigger cities," he said. "But I think in local towns like Lombard the people want a destination like this."