South Pearl Street has seen more than its fair share of action this year. But in the 1800 block of South Pearl, it's all about growth -- not the closings that marked the start of the new year on the 1400 South block, where India's Pearl, Pearl Street Grill and Ototo all shuttered. True, the original Park Burger, at 1890 South Pearl, has been closed for three weeks -- but that's because the place is expanding. (With any luck, it will reopen on Sunday.)
And next door at 1886 South Pearl, The Empty Bottle will be popping the cork on a growth plan that calls for Bin 1884 Cheese Bar to fill the open area that the liquor store has been using as an events center and for private parties (including raclette tastings).
This storefront once held the Reserve List, where Teresa Scamperino was the manager. "They made some mistakes that caught up with them when the economic crunch hits," she says of that shop's owners, and they laid her off, then closed the place. But she thought that managed right, the shop could work, and she found an investor who helped her and her husband, Bradford Minich, buy it.
She'd always thought it would be great to have a cheese bar in the open space to the side of the shop, Scamperino recalls. Now, two years later, she and Minich are finally making plans to open Bin 1884 Cheese Bar right next to the Empty Bottle. The eatery will offer artisan cheese (including flights of cheese), salumi, salads and antipasti-type fare -- as well as a different grilled-cheese special every day -- that can be taken to-go or eaten in a chic-yet-casual dining area. Raclette, served in the traditional Swiss fashion, will remain a specialty, too. And diners will be able to enjoy the perfect glass of wine with their meal -- a glass that might cost as little as five bucks, since "I get frustrated when I can't find something under $10," Scamperino says.
She's also frustrated at the lack of spots in the increasingly hot area for families (their two kids are often in the shop). "We need another place in Platt Park where people can go," she says. "With the increased popularity of our area, our rent took a huge increase. We needed to do something that can complement the wine shop and generate its own revenues."
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They think that something is Bin 1884 Cheese Bar, which they hope to open in a few months. But first, the couple needs to come up with financing for the project -- so they're throwing a KickStarter.com party from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 11, where they'll be serving complimentary food and drink, and serving up details on how people can contribute.
"We found this avenue and we're really excited," Scamperino explains. "We've found a lot of community support." For more information, call 303-722-5478 or go to the Empy Bottle's website.