HYDE PARK — The owner of the Open Produce grocery store asked for neighbors’ blessings Thursday night to open a wine shop on 57th Street.
Steven Lucy, the owner of Open Produce, 1635 E. 55th St., and the neighboring Cornell Florist, at a Thursday night community meeting said he was planning a wine and craft beer store for the former O’Gara and Wilson bookstore at 1448 E. 57th St.
Lucy said he thinks there is still a niche in the neighborhood for more local and craft beer and an assortments of wines from around the world, particularly serving diners headed to the B.Y.O.B. restaurants on 57th Street.
“If I’m wrong, people won’t buy wine, but I feel there is demand on 57th Street,” Lucy said.
There were a few people in the audience at the meeting called by Ald. Leslie Hairston’s 5th Ward office who said the store could bring too many people to a quieter section of the street and there was nothing stopping Lucy from later switching to cheaper booze preferred by college students.
Lucy said a year after Open Produce got its liquor license, it continues to carry the types of alcohol he’s proposed for the wine shop and said there would be none of the jugs of vodka or cases of bargain domestic beer neighbors were worried about.
“I have no intention of running that kind of wine shop,” Lucy said.
The other businesses owners along the strip cheered the idea by a fellow Hyde Parker as a good fit for a street with a lot of restaurants that can’t get liquor licenses because they are too close to schools or banned from selling alcohol by a liquor moratorium.
“Any local business is already going to be a positive in my mind,” said Sam Darrigrand, owner of Zaleski and Horvath. “It’s not another corporate store the university went shopping for.”
Lucy, who grew up and still lives in Hyde Park, said he wants to keep as much of the historic details of the former O’Gara and Wilson space as possible, which until its departure in 2013 was one of the longest continuously operated businesses in the city.
After an overwhelmingly positive vote by the roughly 50 people at the end of the meeting, Ald. Hairston’s Chief of Staff Kimberly Webb said the alderman would likely support the liquor license application.
Lucy said he anticipated the store would open in the fall if the rest of the application process goes smoothly.
He said once the store is open, it will likely operate from noon to 10 p.m. most days and would possibly stay open until midnight on Saturdays.
The space was last used as a temporary art center, which closed in May.
The space was until 2013 home to O'Gara and Wilson, one of the longest continuously operated businesses in the city. [DNAinfo/Sam Cholke]
The space was last used as an art center and gallery, which closed in May. [DNAinfo/Sam Cholke]