Biz Beat

Old Portofino building on Modesto’s McHenry Avenue finds new life as wine bar, salon

Check out the Modesto’s new wine bar and salon on McHenry Avenue

The Terrace by The Vault, a new wine bar, and Liquid Gold Studios, a full-service salon and tanning studio, have opened in the former Portofino's building on McHenry Avenue in Modesto, CA.
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The Terrace by The Vault, a new wine bar, and Liquid Gold Studios, a full-service salon and tanning studio, have opened in the former Portofino's building on McHenry Avenue in Modesto, CA.

If you were around Modesto in the 1990s and early 2000s, you knew one of the hottest patios in town was at Portofino Caffe.

Tucked into converted home on lower McHenry Avenue, the Italian restaurant and bar was a hot spot for music, dancing and general merriment. But then around 2004, after more than a decade in business, it changed names and owners to a new short-lived eatery. Then in 2009, it was converted into the Bella Vagos salon and cafe.

Now, the building has been reborn as Liquid Gold Studios and The Terrace by The Vault. The combination full-service salon and tanning studio plus wine lounge opened this year and hopes to bring back regular nightlife at the site.

New building owner Tom Olivera and his girlfriend, Madison Olds, renovated the space late last year. The large main building at 521 McHenry Ave. houses Olds’ salon, Liquid Gold. The Terrace is located in the small, detached former Portofino bar building at 521 1/2 McHenry and takes advantage of the brick patio with lush trees and a water fountain.

The Terrace is the second location for sisters Merissa Deming and Kara Bogetti, who together own and operate The Vault in Ripon. The wine lounge on Main Street will celebrate its one-year anniversary in July. The new Modesto location opened earlier this month.

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At the Terrace wine bar owners from the right, Kara Bogetti, Merissa Deming, and Tom Olivera in Modesto, Calif., Thursday, June 20, 2019. Andy Alfaro aalfaro@modbee.com

The sisters weren’t thinking about opening in Modesto, but were friends with Olivera, who told them about the McHenry space.

“He asked, ‘Do you want to bring The Vault to the old Portifino’s?’ So the opportunity just came to us,” Bogetti said. “Portofino’s was the place back in the day, and we want that back.”

The Terrace serves 26 different wines, as well as craft beer, champagne and sake-based cocktails. The bar also offers a variety of flights of wine, champagne and mimosas — which have proven popular at their Ripon location.

Also like in Ripon, the bar offers an assortment of small bites and dishes for people to snack on. They include meat and cheese plates, hummus, bruschetta and more. Soon, they also plan to offer brunch bites for the weekend crowd, including that millennial favorite avocado toast.

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Bartender Ale Griffith mixes a drink at the Terrace by Vault in Modesto, Calif., Thursday, June 20, 2019. Andy Alfaro aalfaro@modbee.com

The small indoor space has a 40-person capacity, but about 100 can gather outside on the terrace. The front of the patio also can slide open now, with a view of McHenry Avenue. The sisters are bringing in a brick-oven pizza service to the patio on Friday nights, and live music on Saturday nights.

Next door at Liquid Gold, Olds has created a stylish salon offering everything from cuts and colors to nails, eyelashes, spray tanning, teeth whitening, waxing and facials. Olds, formerly a bartender at The Boardroom, started doing just spray tans two and a half years ago. But her business has already moved three times to expand because of growth.

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Madison Olds, owner of Liquid Gold Studios in Modesto, Calif., Thursday, June 20, 2019. Andy Alfaro aalfaro@modbee.com

Opened at the start of January after a three-month renovation, the salon has 22 employees and uses both floors of the two-story building. The neighboring businesses both open out onto the patio, and customers from both often mingle in the space.

“We want everyone to feel at home here at Liquid Gold. We have nothing but amazing people who are highly trained,” Olds said. “Nothing but the best here. We want to welcome men, women and children. We do any service for anyone.”

The Terrace is open 4 to 11 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 209-312-9636 or visit www.facebook.com/theterracebythevault. Liquid Gold hours vary by appointment or walk-in daily. For more information, call 209-342-7522 or visit www.instagram.com/liquid.gold.studios.

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Marijke Rowland writes about new business, restaurant and retail developments. She has been with The Modesto Bee since 1997 covering a variety of topics including arts and entertainment. Her Business Beat column runs midweek and Sundays. And it’s pronounced Mar-eye-ke.
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