In the Red Wine Bar Set to Open on Phinney Avenue

Welcome to the new generation of wine bar, where the food is cheap, the plates mismatched, and the owner knows your name.

February 3, 2010

Something simple: In the Red will offer $5 snacks like bruschetta—“food that goes well with wine,” says co-owner Brian Folino.

Five dollar small plates, $5 wines by the glass, generous promotions, and plenty of vegan options: this is how Brian Folino and Chad Campbell will lure customers to In the Red, the cafe and wine bar that they plan to open in early March. Folino says the prices (and the name) are a response to the languid economy. With so many restaurants and bars offering happy hours to stay in business, he figured, why not offer happy hour prices all the time?

Folino has toiled at a long list of local restaurants (Volterra and The Brooklyn among them) but says he was most inspired by the new crop of small winebar/coffeeshop hybrids like Fonte downtown and Citizen on Queen Anne. But the business plan also calls to mind the approach of Greenwood’s Gainsbourg and Vermillion on Capitol Hill: tiny neighborhood places that break down the notion that a wine bar should feel slick and upwardly mobile. If Purple Cafe and Wine Bar is a metaphor for our city in its early-aught boom days, these are the wine bars of recession-era Seattle.

Folino envisions a mom-and-pop feel—the 50-seat space at 6510 Phinney Avenue North will be populated with eclectic furniture and mismatched dishes. The wine list will include 18 to 25 wines, most from Washington. On the small plate menu will be lentil salads, antipasti, bruschetta, and grilled vegetables, there will be shared platters for $8 and mac and cheese for the kids.

The owners are currently in negotiation with Fonte Roasters and Cafe Vita. Whichever coffee company ends up with the account, Folino (who got his barista training at Vivace), says espresso drinks will be priced at about a dollar below average and he’ll give out generous coffee-punch cards: buy five drinks and the sixth is free.

“‘One hundred percent more free coffee’ is one of our mottoes,” he says.

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