New businesses in Buckhead and Sandy Springs leave no lack of libation options for residents looking for anything from a simple chardonnay to exceptionally rare bourbons and fine wines.
Pairing fine spirits with an exquisite shopping experience outlined a recipe for success, according to the local business leaders.
Tucked away in an unassuming shopping center, The Juice Box on Powers Ferry Road in Sandy Springs is not a typical warehouse-style liquor store. On any given day, customers can walk in the 12,000-square-foot facility and discuss rare wines and spirits with sommelier Harry Constantinescu, former wine director at the St. Regis in Buckhead, while strolling through the carefully organized shelves boasting 6,000 different products.
Soon after resigning his position at the St. Regis in September to spend more time with his family, Constantinescu was contacted by an entrepreneur about helping establish a liquor store that would add a level of luxury to the old sales model.
“I thought it was quite a challenging new concept,” he said. “Soon after that I started making selections of a little over 1,500 labels of different wines, over 550 different vodkas. It took quite a while to select all of [our products] from around the world.”
Constantinescu said the first bottle sold when the store opened in April was a Bordeaux wine valued at about $2,000. Since then, the response has continued to be overwhelmingly positive.
“Every week since we’ve opened has been better than the previous week, which is definitely the sign of a healthy business,” he said.
Originally from Romania, Constantinescu grew up making wine on his family farm but said he never planned to get into the business as an adult.
“I actually hated wine,” he said. “My family made wine when I was growing up. It sounds good, but it’s dirty and sticky work.”
But he realized his winemaking background made him skillful at identifying great wines, leading him to go on to become a certified sommelier.
Aside from Constantinescu’s thorough knowledge, customers can also take advantage of a drive-up window, two wine consultation stations and a cigar humidor. Constantinescu has visions to grow and improve The Juice Box, including establishing a website complete with an online custom-order feature.
For Buckhead residents, Savi Provisions is a welcome addition since the closing of Pearson’s Wine Shop in late 2011 left the area with few high-end wine stores.
But CEO Paul Nair said his third and largest Atlanta store is not just about alcohol. Located in the Tuxedo Festival shopping center on Roswell Road in Buckhead, Savi anchors the entire complex with the central bottle shop offering wines, beers and spirits as well as an adjacent wine and spirits tasting room and fresh, locally sourced market.
“We want people to be able to come to our location, go to tasting our room to taste whatever wine, beer or liquor they want and buy it and then go to our food market, which is full of prepared foods that makes your party a success,” said Nair.
Since opening in February, the one-stop shop has even more plans to expand, with a forthcoming Chastain Park-based food truck and adding fresh seafood, a salad bar and a juice bar to its gourmet market that already features a cheese wall with an extensive collection of fine cheeses and charcuterie.
Nair, who has lived in Atlanta since 1990, introduced his first Savi concept in 2009 in Inman Park (the second store is in Brookhaven and a fourth is planned for Vinings). He was born in India but grew up in New York and went on to attend Cornell University to learn about the restaurant and hospitality business.
“Living in New York, I was used to neighborhood markets rather than 40,000-square-foot warehouses,” Nair said. “That’s what we are trying to recreate — a place that puts customer service first.”