WICKER PARK — A Wicker Park wine store is undergoing a complete overhaul that will leave the business closed until later this summer.
Joe’s Wine Cellar, 2108 W. Division St., will close Sunday as owners transform the store into Le Midi, a sit-down wine bar and tasting room that will serve small plates with a Mediterranean focus.
Craig Perman and Seth Wilson bought Joe’s at the end of last year when longtime owner Joe Dalton retired.
Perman and Wilson have extensive experience in the Chicago wine scene: Perman owns Perman Wine Selections on the Near North Side, while Wilson previously worked as a sommelier and wine director at the Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group.
Wilson said he and Perman have long had a vision of creating a space in Chicago for “l’heure d’apéro,” the Mediterranean tradition where people gather for drinks and light fare before or after dinner.
When Joe’s went up for sale last year, they jumped at the chance to take over a space with a pre-existing tavern and retail license.
“We thought that Chicago could use a style of wine cafe, bar, tasting room that is more European in style. So that’s where our influence comes from; even the name Le Midi is inspired by the geographical region that connects Italy, Spain and France through the Alps and Pyrenees,” Wilson said. “And since we have both spent quite a bit of time in those regions, we thought we can bring that culture into Joe’s.”
Le Midi will retain Joe’s retail component, but it will shift to focus more on European and European-influenced wines.
Wilson said Le Midi’s food menu will feature 15-20 small plates, with suggestions of wine pairings. The beverage list may include some “wine-driven” cocktails like a vermouth spritz, but it will not offer a full bar.
“It’s not going to be a full menu; just a smattering of pairings to go with the wines. But it will be full service, so we’re going to have a staff that is very prepared to work with pairings and know our entire inventory as well,” he said.
The business will be closed for the next four to five weeks, Wilson said. He hopes to reopen by mid- to late August.
“We are definitely ready and excited and we think it’s going to be a great addition to Wicker Park,” Wilson said. “Both Craig and I have been in the wine trade in Chicago and elsewhere for many years. And so I think with the opening also comes the reputation that we’ve built individually and together in the city.”
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