When TJ was trying to open the first Urban Grape, not a lot of people wanted to rent to a kid with a big dream about wine retail. He looked all over the city – South End, Newbury Street, Back Bay, Charlestown, you name it – and no matter how hard he tried, the perfect place with the perfect terms just never appeared. It was finally my father who said, “Sometimes you need to open your second store first.” After that conversation, TJ widened his search and started looking outside of Boston, for any little town that might be a good place to open up shop.
A couple hours after we dropped our oldest son Noah off at his very first day of school ever, TJ ended up looking through the windows at 7 Boyslton Street in Chestnut Hill. While I stood in line at the DMV, holding tissues up to my eyes and hyperventilating at the feeling of loss I felt with a child at school for the first time, TJ called and told me he very well just may have found the perfect location for The Urban Grape. In that moment a chapter was ending, and a new one began. We went to look at the space a few days later and he was right. Everything about it was perfect.
It took us ten months to get The Urban Grape open. It felt like a life time. There were whole months where we lay wide awake in bed, completely petrified about what we were thinking of doing. It was 2010, the height of the recession, and we were leaving the workforce and the promise of reliable salaries to try and start our own business. Now, nearly two years later, we’re doing it all over again and starting a second store in a empty retail spot in the South End. This time, a realtor called us and asked us to move in. We’ve come a long way in two years.
As we look forward to The Urban Grape South End, we can’t help but feel an incredible debt to our neighbors in Newton. Everyone – from the town agencies, to our landlord, to the businesses around us, to the incredibly loyal clientele we’ve built up – has cheered us on and let us try things on our own terms. From progressive shelving, to pop-up chefs nights, to crazy Saturday tastings, to blind milk-tasting videos with our kids – we’ve tried to do it all and have fun while doing it. The only time we’ve ever heard no was when we asked if we could roast a pig in the parking lot. And, okay, we kind of get that.
Opening a store in the city was always our dream. But we couldn’t ever have done it on our own. We did it with the help of Newton – a town that we’d never really been to, but that quickly became our home. And because of that, Newton, this Bud’s for you.