ENGLEWOOD — They were open for just few weeks when COVID-19 hit, sending Rumours Wine Bar’s owners into a new direction.
“My husband locked himself in a room for 12 hours and changed our retail store concept into an online, curbside and delivery store — and into a full wine and beer bar,” said Dana Kuhn. She and her husband Jerry, a guidance counselor at L.A. Ainger Middle School are co-owners of Rumours.
“We were really busy in April and May with curbside service. People drove up, popped their trunk and I loaded up the wine. We were considered an ‘essential business,’ so we were allowed to stay open. We just had to change our business plan.”
Then they shifted to virtual wine tastings through Zoom meetings. Customers picked up four samples from places like Italy, Africa and California. They tasted and talked about their favorite wine choices.
“They became very popular,” Dana said. “It’s really not something we ever thought about doing when we opened in January. It was a way for us to stay in touch with our customers and a way for customers to meet each other virtually.”
The idea of Rumours, at 1807 Englewood Road, Englewood, began in the couple’s living room in September 2019. After 14 years working in the wine business, working in sales, and also research and development, Dana resigned. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do next.
“I always dreamed of opening my own wine bar,” she said. “We created our logo, our name and our brand and simply followed our heart. We also have a mascot ‘Wine-nona.’ I always wanted to take some aspects of wine bars and make it different, once I opened my own wine bar.”
Today, Rumours is open at 50% to 75% capacity — instead of 100% as the governor’s executive order allows. Dana said the most customers she’s had inside is 16, but the establishment can hold 45. She still uses social distancing at the wine bar, which includes three sofa seating areas and a custom-made bar. She offers “25 to 30 wines by the glass,” including Hamilton Creek Sauvignon Blanc, Chalk Hill Chardonnay, Austin Hope Cabernet and Zensa Primitivo. They will also focus on craft beer and cider in the future.
The couple also has a restaurant license which allows them to have weekly specials. Dana partners with the Yum Yum Bakery next to the wine bar and has custom-baked French bread.
“I will have different dishes each week because I’m the one cooking and I don’t like to eat the same thing all of the time,” she said. “I recently made fresh Florida avocado guacamole with organic blue corn tortilla chips. We also have a charcuterie board and French bread with dipping oils.”
“Over the next few weeks, we will be introducing charcuterie plates and some specialty cocktails,” she said. “We have an espresso Martini, which is made with house-infused espresso vodka, house-infused vanilla vodka, and wine-based Kahlua and served ice cold. It’s a unique aspect for our wine bar.”
“We are collecting non-perishable canned goods to donate to St. David’s Jubilee Center in Englewood for their Thanksgiving meals,” she said.
On Friday, Rumours will be hosting a wine tasting fundraiser for the Business and Professional Women of Englewood and Venice from 5 to 8 p.m. The event features eight wines, food, live music by the Shark Sisters and a chance to win gift baskets. Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the door. For tickets, please visit www.bpwev.org.
More events are in the works.
In November, Rumours will also have its first wine and art night featuring Jenny Cunningham with Red Branch Designs, local graphic artist Carroll Swayze and Rich Fizer.
“I want to reach out to artists and small business owners and some nonprofits to have events here, even on nights when I’m not open on Mondays or Tuesday,” she said.
“I want to have sip-and-shop events where local artists and small business owners like the Mary Kay lady can come and sell their items,” she said. “I also want to do a sip and paint events here.”
Regular hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Rumours also sponsors a Thirsty First Thursday and a Thirsty Third Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for customers every month to try four wines for $15. Reservations are required due to social distancing practices.
On Oct. 29, Rumours is having a “long-awaited” ribbon cutting for the business from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. For more information, call 941-473-WINE.