South Tampa's sophisticated palettes have yet another place to call home.
The Wine Studio converges the traditional bistro idea with a wine bar to create a laid back, elegant atmosphere off Henderson Boulevard in south Tampa.
Before opening the doors in September, owner Sharon Stewart had an idea for its unusual design, complete with circular cutouts inside a wall near the building's parking lot.
"This whole building is curved and round," she said. "There's no right angles."
We talked to Stewart, a south Tampa resident, about how she got involved in the restaurant business and what patrons can expect at The Wine Studio.
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On how she got into the wine business: In 1980, I was married to a Ringling (College) art student. I been working for Steak and Ale restaurants in Sarasota. They asked us to relocate. My husband was in school, so we turned down the relocation. I said, 'Wouldn't it be cool to open a wine bar?' I talked to Jim Smith, my wine rep for Steak and Ale, and I said, 'Do you know anyone who might like to partner with me in a wine bar?'
My concept was a California-style menu with cheese and fruit boards, avocados, sandwiches, gazpacho. And then offer wines by the glass. He loved the idea. He said, 'How do you feel about being partner with a woman?' It was his wife. She was a writer. We opened the first wine bar in 1980 in Sarasota. It was called The Wine Studio. It was open for two years, then we sold it. I opened 42nd Street Bistro in 1995.
On what makes her business differ from others in south Tampa: I've been to some of the wine bars in the area, and we’re more Old World. My staff kids around, there's no iPads, just chalk (customer orders are written on a chalkboard palette by their server). The other thing is, some of the other wine bars I've gone to are crudite and lighter foods. We have a pretty extensive menu for being a wine bar.
Specialties at The Wine Studio: We go anywhere from gourmet-style pizza to foie gras. We have a lot of things in between. Homemade soups. We do dinner specials.
What she wants people to know about The Wine Studio: Were not just a wine bar. We have 14 brews and IPA's, and an extensive beer menu, too. We also want to promote the arts in Tampa.
To contact The Wine Studio, stop by 4106 Henderson Boulevard or call (813) 374-8866.
Have you been to The Wine Studio? Tell us in the comments.