[caption id="attachment_78802" align="alignnone" width="500"] City Winery plans to create a wine, food and music venue in the Napa Valley Opera House in downtown Napa, similar to this location opened in Chicago nearly a year ago. (image credit: City Winery)[/caption]
NAPA -- City Winery, which has blended wine, food and music in New York and Chicago venues, is taking the show to the Napa Valley Opera House in downtown Napa.
With newly acquired private equity funding, New York-based City Winery International, LLC (citywinery.com), signed a 10-year lease, with an option for a five-year renewal, for the opera house building at 1030 Main St. and plans to purchase a building in downtown Nashville, Tenn.
Just like at the New York and Chicago sites and the one planned for Nashville, the planned Napa venue would have a new Meyer Sound audio system plus tables and seating for 340, according to City Winery founder and Chief Executive Officer Michael Dorf. Other parts of the building would be renovated for an 80-seat restaurant and accompanying commercial kitchen.
Existing raked seating in the concert hall would be removed to restore the ballroom feel from before the renovation a decade ago. That previous work on the building, such as installing infrastructure for a kitchen, greatly reduces the estimated cost of the project to $2 million-plus, according to Mr. Dorf.
Also envisioned for the building are outdoor seating for 30 as well as finishing the nearly completed upstairs deck for access from the planned dining room.
City Winery has been talking about the project with city planning officials but hasn't applied for permits yet. Work wouldn't be able to begin until the lease commences Nov. 16, after the Napa Valley Film Festival at the opera house. Contractor bidding is set to open in the second week of September. The project goal is for a "soft" launch of the Napa location in spring, perhaps as early as March.
The establishment would have 75 to 90 full- and part-time employees.
A winery is planned for the Nashville location, but barrels of local wine are set to be on tap in Napa.
"It’s great to have found the ideal mix of music, food, and wine that is appealing to a sophisticated audience," he said. "We continue to hear from lots of artists and fans that our concert experience is an ideal setting in which to enjoy both the music and the culinary arts"
The company employs more than 250 in its two existing locations and expects to add about 200 more after the Napa and Nashville openings.
Mr. Dorf opened the New York custom winery in 2008, but the hobby winemaking for bankers model sprung a leak after the global financial crises hit just afterward.
So the model shifted to wine and music. A 30-seat restaurant opened there in 2011. Last summer, City Winery opened a 32,000-square-foot winery and music venue in Chicago.
He put the plan for City Winery together in 2006 after making wine by the barrel in California with his brother Josh and winemaker David Tate, now at Barnett Vineyards near St. Helena.
Before this venture, Mr. Dorf at age 23 co-founded The Knitting Factory concert house in 1987 in Manhattan and grew it to several locations before leaving in 2004.