WADSWORTH, Ohio – Ericha Fryfogle-Joy vividly remembers March 13, 2020.
She had been the go-to person at UnWined – a wine, cocktail and bourbon bar slated to open in downtown Wadsworth – when she got a call from a liquor control officer. He was on his way for a final inspection and called to say the plans had changed. Word was that the governor was going to temporarily shut down bars and restaurants.
This is the life of business leaders during the coronavirus pandemic.
UnWined and its pseudo-sister company, Wadsworth Brewing Co. – both owned by Ernie Joy, Ericha’s husband – sandwich The library along Main Street with its angled parking lots and row of American flags. UnWined opened on November 3, 2020.
“Ernie is the owner, I am the boss,” Fryfogle-Joy likes to say.
The wine bar and brasserie fit into the street, with neighbors like an American Legion Post, a local diner, Alexandris; an office of the financial planner and the office of the Chamber of Commerce.
“The challenge was that it was a big space,” Fryfogle-Joy said. “We looked at the space and we said, ‘Oh my God, what are we going to do? “To begin with, a lime-yellow-lime-colored pattern has been replaced with a pleasant blue and calming darker solids. A subtle bicycle theme (” We’re all bicycle lovers “) can be seen in works tasteful art throughout the building, which once housed a tech company.
“Ernie once bought me a 1969 Schwinn for Valentine’s Day,” she said.
Near the L-shaped bar for 10 people, a small hallway leads to a lounge area with fireplace at the back. The space has a capacity of 99 people on its 4,200 square feet.
The vertical pipes serve the dual purpose of supporting the shelves while giving the exposed brick space a feeling of industrial freshness.
“I am blessed that our chef is very practical,” Fryfogle-Joy said of John Lail, who built the fireplace and a coffee table.
The clientele is a mix, she says, with dudes sipping Bourbon, couples having dessert and a glass of wine, or groups of women sharing a bottle.
The goal, said Fryfogle-Joy, was to provide a place where everyone can feel comfortable drinking, eating, or both. UnWined strikes a balance between a bar and a restaurant.
“You want a laid back, laid back, and comfortable setting, (and) don’t feel pressured into ordering food,” she said.
Fryfogle-Joy has a sense of design and is the catalyst for overall appearance, having a knack for spotting an ordinary object and seeing what could be an artistic addition.
She found cut branches thrown by a neighbor, who had a tree cut down.
“I said, ‘Can I go through and pick some cool branches? ” she said. “Of course, whatever” was the response.
The result: a beautiful centerpiece that serves as a natural divider in the back room.
“I am a reclaimer,” Fryfogle-Joy said. Over 20 years ago, she spotted a bench in the street. She saved it, fixed it and stained it, and it is now in the bar.
UnWined is based on two principles: wine and cocktails. If you want beer, Ernie will be happy to serve you one or two doors down.
Lail makes her own simple syrup for exclusive cocktails. Old Fashioneds are UnWined’s best-selling drinks, Fryfogle-Joy said.
“The Bourbon collection is a priority,” she says.
Ten all-natural wines are served through an in-barrel storage system, allowing for glass pouring and longer shelf life. The wines added nothing – no coloring, flavoring or additives that some wineries often use.
Tap offerings include a sparkling wine, a sauvignon blanc, a rosso (table red), a sangiovese and a malbec. Also among the taps is rose cider made by a Maryland vineyard and apple orchard.
“You have a whole trend of people looking for healthy alternatives,” said UnWined director Sue Schwarz.
“And,” Lail rang, “everyone loves bubbles.”
Most are dry, although a green apple-flavored Riesling is sweet, Fryfogle-Joy said.
“With natural wines, nothing will be too sweet because you don’t add sugar, nothing at all,” she said.
Take-out wine is available – “unwinders” as they are called – much like the growers in a brewery. And you get 10% discount on top-ups. Flights – three 3-ounce pours – are also available for $ 9.75. Spirit flights are also available.
“We encourage people to give it a try. It was a huge success, ”said Fryfogle-Joy.
Bottle prices range from around $ 18 to $ 70, with several grape varieties from Maryhill Winery from Washington state alongside several French and other bottles.
Despite the delays and challenges brought on by Covid, UnWined settled into his cozy place, trying to live by the mantra of a sign hanging from the bar: “Live well, love a lot, laugh often.”
“We were shocked at how busy we were over Christmas,” Fryfogle-Joy said, adding, “Our biggest challenge is staffing. Some Saturday nights we need six people, others of four.
Between the couple, they have covered drinks on Main Street. Do they give each other advice on beer and wine?
“All the time,” Fryfogle-Joy said.
Previous coverage: Wadsworth Brewing Co. moves forward after just 4 months in business (photos, video)
Learn more about UnWined
• The bar is located at 132 Main Street in the heart of downtown Wadsworth.
• It has a few beers available – Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. from Akron, Deschutes Brewery from Oregon. But it is above all about wine and cocktails. Wadsworth Brewing is a short walk away, for those who want to sip froth. Ernie rents both sites.
• Tuscan Chicken Panini and a Power Salad are two of the top selling foods.
• For July 4th, the bar mixes a layered red, white and blue cocktail – with a mini Pop Bomb in the same colors protruding from the drink.
• A local woman makes champagne cotton candy with edible sprinkles. UnWined calls it “Bubbly with a bang”.
• A patio is under construction, awaiting city approval.
• No TV, so don’t expect to see a football game.
• Happy hour is $ 5 off bottles. Happy hour hours: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and noon to 6 p.m. Friday, with featured cocktails at $ 6 each week.
• For the month of June, the bar was serving Pride Punch – a mouthwatering concoction of gin, cranberry and champagne.
I am on cleveland.comlife and culture team and cover topics related to food, beer, wine and sport. If you want to see my stories, here is a directory on cleveland.com. Bill Wills from WTAM-1100 and I talk about food and drink usually at 8:20 am on Thursday mornings. And tune in at 7:05 am Wednesdays for “Beer with Bona and Much, Much More” with Munch Bishop on 1350-AM The Gambler. Twitter: @ mbona30.
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