Whether you’re looking for an ice-cold pint of beer, a pre-Prohibition era cocktail, or a $200 shot of cognac, The Grand Cru should make you feel right at home.
The new downtown Turlock wine and cocktail bar has opened in the space of the former Vintage Lounge at 130 W. Main St. The business officially changed its name and unveiled its new small plate menu in late August.
Unlike its predecessor, The Grand Cru will have a more laid-back feel and do away with the piano bar’s strict dress code. A t-shirt and jeans is fine. But The Grand Cru is plenty fancy in other ways. The space already has a lush feel thanks to its old brick wall and 40-foot bar. General Manager Nelson Ramirez said they plan to put in high-backed booths along one wall soon. The changes reflect the bar’s new name, a French term that refers to the top grapes, vineyards and wines.
The result, Ramirez said, should be a laid-back feel with upscale ambiance.
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“We are making craft cocktails with high-end spirits and serving high-end wines,” he said. “There isn’t a place like this in Turlock yet. No one is offering our take on a wine bar like this.”
And it is a definite departure from owners Shayne Heine and Jerry Powell’s other Turlock bar just down the street on Main, The Udder Place. The duo opened the country bar in 2015.
In contrast they hope The Grand Cru will attract a pre- or post-dinner crowd. People can go have a nice meal at one of the downtown area’s many nice restaurants, and then keep the night going at The Grand Cru. The site has about 70 wines on hand, from California, France, Italy and beyond. They ultimately plan to stock about 125 different varieties.
The same goes for its spirits, which range from brands you can buy in a grocery store to top-tier selections. Ramirez said soon they will carry Louis XIII Cognac by Remy, which sells for $3,000 a bottle. But high-end drinks are just part of the attraction. You can also order up old-time and specialty cocktails from the bar’s mixologists, made with everything from egg whites to fresh-squeezed juice and herbs. For a special treat order the classic bourbon sour with egg whites, a pre-Prohibition throwback that is both a visual and taste delight.
Of course, you don’t have to splash out that big at The Grand Cru. The trio of tasting plates is reasonably priced considering they’re a big step up from your average chicken wings and potato skins most bars offer. You can choose from assorted bruschetta including brie and fig, salmon mousse and fresh tomato ($9.50) to spicy sauteed prawns with crostinis ($13.50) and an artisan meat, cheese and fruit plate featuring many locally produced ingredients ($19.50). Having tried them all — for science — I can attest you can’t go wrong with any of them.
While the bar no longer has a piano, the stage at the back remains with live music Friday and Saturday nights. They plan to begin salsa nights on Thursdays soon.
The Grand Cru is open 4 p.m. to midnight or later Tuesday to Thursday and 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sundays and Mondays. For more information call 209-668-4680 or visit www.facebook.com/TheGrandCruTurlock.
Elsewhere around the Business Beat:
The Envy clothing empire keeps on growing.
The Envy Fine Clothing boutique is expanding to Riverbank. Owner Darlene Dover started with one store in Atwater in 2008. That has since grown to additional locations on Main Street in Turlock, McHenry Village in Modesto and G Street in Merced. On Monday she will open her newest site in the busy Crossroads shopping center in Riverbank.
The store is taking over the space of the former 2DIE4 Boutique across from the center’s Starbucks. That shop closed because its owner is moving to the East Coast, so Dover took over her lease.
“We are elated to be here. Honestly we go there as often as we can because we’re in love with the area,” said the Atwater resident.
The new boutique will focus initially only on women’s clothes and shoes. The store will carry everything from casual to dressy and continue its specialty in jeans. Look for hot brands like Hudson, Rock Revival and Miss Me, among others. It will also carry the continually popular Ugg boots and shoes for folks who want to feel like the world’s most fashionable sherpa. Kidding, they’re comfy, I get it.
Interestingly, part of Envy’s continued success has to do with its embrace of social media and text shopping. Each of Dover’s now five shops has a dedicated texting line where customers can place orders, ask about inventory and more. Each store also has its own Facebook and Instagram pages which highlight the latest fashions.