There’s an experience across idylic European hamlets and cities that most Dallasites rarely have. It’s one where you walk out your front door and down the avenue, never getting into a car, and stroll a few meters to the cafe. While there, you have a sandwich, a glass of wine, and fizzy water. The whole scenario feel like being on vacation.
But for residents of Lower Greenville, a little European vacation has hit the neighborhood as Cafe Duro adds a wine shop. It already offered an assortment of coffees, pastries, pizzetta and panini lunch options, and imported goods. Now it adds of a small collection of wines, and Duro Hospitality co-founder Chas Martin describes the selection as discovered while “casting a wide net.”
Duro Hospitality’s director of wine and beverage, Nicole Nowlin, selects the shop’s stock, and that of its restaurants. And the categorization isn’t by region or type of wine, but by clever little pairings, like Rich and Sexy Whites versus Textural Interesting Whites. Many of the bottles may look unfamiliar, but, as with many things Duro does, it’s a “trust us and try it” vibe.
“We believe in simplifying the world of wine, which is in no way simple,” Martin tells Eater Dallas. Hence the zany categories and ten-word descriptions on the tag of each bottle. On a trip in, quizzing the staff behind the counter about pairings for the glasses on offer yielded confident and unerring answers.
The Duro group acquired the 800-square-foot space while building out Sister, its restaurant next door that the New York Times recognized as one of the best in the country for 2022 — Dallas’s only entry on the list. There wasn’t enough parking to open a second restaurant or expand Sister, but a cafe and wine shop would work.
“It’s always been a dream of all of ours to own a cute little wine shop and cafe,” Martin says. “Like you think about the little place you pop into off the street if you’re in Florence or in Rome. And you’re getting your coffee and brioche in the morning, you’re coming back at 5 for your spritz, and then you’re taking a bottle of wine home to the family for dinner.”
In a city where liquor and wine stores are mostly cavernous liquidators, independent wine shops tend to be a pop in and out experience, and wine bars are mostly buried in the strip malls or shopping centers in virtually unwalkable neighborhoods, what Cafe Duro is offering is a unique experience.
“The neighborhood has loved Sister. I’m saying that not from an opinion, I’m saying that just from the mathematics behind Sister — it’s full every night,” Martin says. “So to me, that means that neighborhood wants more of everything, and more good products at a fair value.”
And for those for whom one bottle isn’t enough, Duro is starting a wine club with four curated monthly bottles at different price points. Those include the Duro Explorer for $145, the Duro Collector for $275, and the “Trust Us” club for $499. Martin says the shop and the club will be sourced from all over, and while the shop is only carrying around 100 bottles at the moment, it will continue to expand. “We wanted to cast a very wide net as far as flavor profile, region, and also price,” Martin says. “We realized that some people want to spend a lot of money in life. Some people don’t, and that’s fine, too.”