Tanner’s Wine Bar downtown will be a unique experience

UPDATE: Tanner’s is now open and taking reservations. Call 336-270-9536. Check out the website here.

And now for something completely different.

That’s the anticipated vibe guests are expected to find in early May when Tanner’s Wine Bar opens in downtown Burlington at 102-B East Front St., in one section of the former Mary Katherine’s building across from Burlington Beer Works and beside the Historic Depot.

The vision for Tanner’s Wine Bar is of an intimate and elegant spot for high-quality wines, cheeses, charcuterie, desserts, a small selection of beers and perhaps a cigar to go. It’s a place to have fun in an atmosphere unique to Burlington, said Holly Treadwell, co-owner of Tanner’s with Tracy Schmidt. Treadwell is owner of The Blend and Co., also on Front Street. Schmidt is general manager of Burlington Beer Works.

Tanner’s is their shared idea and concept.

“It’s an experience. Once you step in it’s an environment that makes you forget everything that’s outside,” Schmidt says. “It’s very special. A lot of thought went into every detail. And Holly’s design work is impeccable.”

I first wrote about Tanner’s in August of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic seemed far from even approaching an end. At the time, Schmidt and Treadwell were well into the planning stage for the space, which is part of an overall development of the property by Allen Gant III. The rooms upstairs will be apartments. The tenants of the space on the first floor beside Tanner’s is still undetermined.

I took a look around Tanner’s last week as Treadwell was putting the finishing touches on the interior design – her occupation and specialty. It has been an exhausting few weeks for Treadwell and Schmidt as things started falling into place and details like the permit to sell alcohol were applied for and obtained. As Treadwell developed the design ideas last year her thoughts turned to 1950s New York and the Frank Sinatra “Rat Pack” era – but with modern updates. The lighting and interior décor certainly meet those goals. And there is no place in Burlington I’m aware of that is like Tanner’s.

A look at the interior of Tanner’s Wine Bar on East Front Street in downtown Burlington. Photo courtesy of Holly Treadwell.

Plans are for Tanner’s to open in early May, perhaps even by May 1. Prior to that, a few private parties are scheduled to ease the staff into the how the business will operate.

Size of the space will mean that seats are limited. Between the bar and café tables, Tanner’s can accommodate 39 guests. The bar will feature wines from Europe, California and Oregon not normally found in local grocery stores. A small selection of beers will be on tap and in bottles. Most will come from local or regional breweries but one tap will be dedicated to Burlington Beer Works. Bottle selections include Miller High Life (“The champagne of beers”), Guinness, Red Oak Amber and Chimay.

“Our selections are curated to complement our menu and cigar selection,” Schmidt says, but adds, “cigars will only be available for retail purchase.”

Tanner’s is not a restaurant but will offer a variety of small plates – cheeses and meats, vegetables and dips. The focus is on quality, sharing and wine pairing, especially for the desserts, Schmidt says.

“It’s definitely a place for tapas and desserts,” Schmidt says. “There will be several charcuterie options. People will be able to curate their own board. I really think the cheese and charcuterie selection is going to be to be impressive. As well as the desserts.”

The name Tanner’s was chosen as a tribute to the late Bob Hykes and his wife Kathy Hykes, who is a current member of Burlington City Council. Prior to his death in November of 2019, Bob Hykes was a tireless supporter of downtown development and with wife Kathy own under the name Tanner 318 LLC. the building that houses Burlington Beer Works. Kathy Hykes remains an important figure in the community’s downtown efforts.

Treadwell sees Tanner’s as an upscale experience for people out on the town to begin or end their evenings. It can be a spot to go before dinner, while waiting for a table at a downtown restaurant or ending the night with dessert and glass of wine. It’s a meeting place after work or a site for friends to gather for quiet conversation.

The recent installation of bistro lighting at the Historic Depot combined with the opening of Tanner’s also makes that part of Front Street more inviting as people who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 begin to emerge from months of being mainly at home. The addition of Tanner’s will also add more variety to what is available downtown. There is currently a mixture of restaurants, bars and retail venues to meet many different interests and tastes.

“I love that Holly and I are creating something different, add a little bit of spice and change things up a little bit,” Schmidt says. “Downtowns need a variety of things. We need things that will draw everyone here. I really can’t wait for people to experience it.”

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