Nov. 24, 2014 By Christian Murray
The owners and employees of Blue Streak Wines & Spirits, located at 47-20 Center Blvd, are just weeks away from opening their wine bar two doors down.
“We are looking to open right before Christmas,” said Rob Bralow, a part owner in the new venture who has been an employee at Blue Streak for nearly five years.
Bralow, who is one of four partners and has been in charge of buying wine at Blue Streak, will be the face of the new bar. The establishment has been named BLVD Wine Bar and will carry at least 40 different wines when it opens—which Bralow is paring down from a list of about 200.
The wine bar aims to offer residents a laid-back atmosphere, while offering mid-priced to high-end wines from across the globe. Bralow said that he—and others with a similar background– will be at the bar to explain the attributes of each individual wine if needed.
The establishment is about 1,500 sq feet with a long bar that can seat about 20 people. There are several tables and chairs that can cater to another 30 people or more. Additionally, there is a back room with space that can be used for events/classes.
The wine bar also has a back patio space, adjacent to Shi, with room for two tables and about eight seats. The owners have yet to get the approvals needed to open it.
BLVD will also offer four wines by the keg. In summer, Bralow anticipates that the wine bar will offer two whites, a rosè and a red. In winter, it will be two whites and two dark reds.
The wine-by-the-keg concept has been around for about five years, Bralow said, and it is a way to offer high quality wines at an affordable price. Bralow said that many wineries are now selling by the keg.
The establishment will offer four craft beers by the bottle as well as champagne and champagne cocktails. In terms of food, there will be artisanal cheeses, fine charcuterie, nuts and flat bread. However, over time it will offer items such as mini sandwiches and chopped salads.
When Blue Streak opened in 2007, it was before Shi and Skinny’s Cantina had arrived.
“It was like a dirt road in front the store, with maybe three buildings that were up. It was a ghost town. And now the area has just exploded,” Bralow said.
When Bralow started at Blue Streak, he said the store offered about 150 wines by the bottle. With the influx of new residents, the store now offers well over 700 different wines.
Stephen Spiller, who opened Blue Streak after spending a significant portion of his career as an attorney and accountant, is the sole owner of Blue Streak. This time he is opening BLVD with Bralow, James Lee (another long-time employee at the wine shop), and a restauranteur who is frequent customer of the wine shop.
Lee has worked at Blue Streak for the past six years after finding a summer job there as a stock boy during his summer break from college. From there he stayed long term. ”I have to admit I am very lucky to be involved in the world of wine,” he said in a statement.
A long-time customer of the store has been Jim Pileski, who co-owners The Burger Garage restaurant on Jackson Avenue with his brother. “When we told Jim that we were thinking about opening the wine bar he said he wanted to be part of it,” Bralow recalls.
Pileski brings restaurant experience to BLVD, while the others wine.
Meanwhile, Bralow was exposed to the wine industry when he worked in public relations. He started a wine blog at around the same time. When his four-year stint in public relations abruptly ended when he was laid off, he applied for a position at Blue Streak.
He said at the wine bar he has got to know many residents.
The wine bar, Bralow said, will be similar. “It will be a place where we know the neighborhood and the neighborhood knows us.”