Madison Street is set to receive its latest upscale addition this August with the opening of House Red, a wine boutique that will also feature live music, wine tastings and art exhibits.
Set to open at 7403 Madison St. in late summer or early fall, co-owner Tara O’Brien Nemeth said the store will set itself apart “by looking at wine as a lifestyle, not just ‘come in and buy a bottle.'”
Though the feel of the place might be high end, Nemeth said this won’t necessarily be reflected in the prices. “We’ll have a variety, but the majority will be in the $10 to $25 range,” she said.
The intention is not to overwhelm wine connoisseurs with a huge product line, but to offer about 125 carefully selected wines from around the world and an expert staff that can steer customers in the right direction.
“Our goal is really to focus on education,” she said. “It’s going to be a boutique modeled after a European style where you can just walk in and it’s not so overwhelming.” The store will stock some well-known wines but also will feature harder to find bottles from smaller, less familiar vineyards.
“It seems people are interested in wine but sometimes they’re kind of intimidated because they go into a big store and don’t know what they want to get and who to ask,” she said.
The idea for House Red came from social gatherings hosted by Nemeth, formerly a special ed teacher with River Forest Public Schools, and her husband Chris, a former violinist who now works as a financial analyst.
Plans also call for cultural events which will include wine tastings, art exhibits and live music. “We have a lot of friends and colleagues who are classical musicians, and then we can try to draw other people in as well over time,” said Nemeth.
Her mother-in-law is an abstract painter, opening up connections in the art world that could lead to opportunities for exhibits. Nemeth hopes that the store’s exposed brick walls will serve as an ideal background for paintings and photography by local artists.
She hopes to feature special events in the store at least once per week. Art, music and other attractions will, of course, be complimented by wines chosen by the store’s expert staff.
“The area is kind of primed for something like this. You could pair it with other cultural events going on since there are so many great places on the street.”
She mentioned the possibility of collaborating with Flav’our Cooking School, located next door at 7401 Madison St.
Flav’our co-owners Denise Norton and Christine Malone purchased the building, formerly the home of Doolin and Johnsen Real Estate, in November 2004 before selling it to Nemeth earlier this year.
“From what we’ve seen so far, people on the street are very excited about new ideas, about helping people out. The atmosphere is collaborative, as opposed to competitive,” she said.