At last, at last ~ the long awaited arrival of a genuine wine bar in historic downtown Friendswood has finally become a reality. In a perfectly gorgeous, park like setting in between Houston and Galveston sits the one and only wine bar this little sister city to Houston has ever known, "La Vino Clozet".
This small bedroom community founded by a Quaker colony in 1895 has somehow maintained its dry county status for over a century without being lured or persuaded by the easy profits to be made from taxation on any kind of liquor, beer, wine or alcohol. Admirable indeed ~ so how is it that we now have a wine bar sitting on Main Street in the busiest part of downtown Friendswood?
Enter the new owners and aspiring sommelier, Dan and Cynthia Nemitz. This creative husband and wife team put their proverbial thinking caps on and then took their vision to the City Council. Exhibiting strong persuasion skills coupled with a belief in their dream and a ton of tenacity, they sold their idea to charter "La Vino Clozet" as a “private wine club”. And the rest is history, as they say! With tactical maneuvering like that, odds are that one, or both of them are very good chess players.
If the thought of paying private club dues to enjoy a good Carmenere' concerns you, it shouldn't. As it turns out, for them to be able to attain “private club” status they needed only 100 paying members to sign up. Not surprisingly, those first one hundred memberships were sold out almost immediately, which allowed for the rest of us to ride in on the coattails of the VIP members. In plain English, what this means to those of us who are not VIP members is that our memberships are free. Okay, now we're talking!
Established in a building that formerly held one of the most prominent and long standing mortgage companies in this town, there is virtually no resemblance now. What was once a rather boring wooden framed business office has been transformed into something rather magical. One might be tempted to say that this is one of the few good things that has managed to come directly from and due to the mortgage meltdown.
Amish fireplaces neatly tucked in cozy corner seating areas emanate a soothing warmth, while all around you is a fusion of natural raw earth materials. Slate tables, an imported granite bar, walls melded with burnished metal tiles and earthen toned paint, along with a spattering of simplistic, yet plush seating arrangements all combine to create a Zen-like setting that exudes serenity. You'll find this to be an idyllic refuge from the daily grind, much like what one might expect on a retreat or at a very exclusive day spa, where your every whim is indulged.
Additionally, the buildings unique design which includes two private rooms in the back, can hold up to 16 guests on either side. It is within this section of the wine bar that it begins to hint of a typical downtown Houston, scotch and cigar bar. Cherry wood executive style furnishings lend an air of prestige and elegance. This is where the "private club" moniker actually seems to fit best. Private parties or business meetings would most easily be accommodated for small to medium groups in this area. One side boasts an escape route that leads to a heavily treed outdoor patio for anyone wishing to arrive or depart incognito.
Although the wine list is a bit on the minimalist side, they more than make up for it with the décor, atmosphere and the quality of their wine selections as well as pricing. There are several house wines under $6 a glass that proved to be quite tasty as well as a light menu of various appetizers, pizzas, dips and sandwiches.
As an added bonus, if you are a people watcher, you will not be disappointed at the ensemble' of eclectic patrons and members that gather here. Think cast and crew of "Friends" meets the extras from the set of a Woody Allen movie and you will start to get the picture. Who knew this mostly over looked, small town venue had so many interesting and unique personalities? Apparently, it just took the right vision and the ideal place to bring them all together. With all this going for La Vino Clozet, I believe they are destined to have a very long run.
If you are looking for something a little different, this is the perfect pit stop between Houston and Galveston and well worth the drive, even if you are not on your way to the mainland. No traffic, no smog and no yelling over a din of noise to get served. If you are at all familiar with the Bay Area wine bar scene, you are going to be extremely pleased with this latest addition.
Although their hours of operation are a bit unusual, you can check them out on their facebook page or give them a call at 281-648-VINO (8466) to reserve your table. Whatever you do, do not miss the chance to visit here soon. This one is sure to be on your "favorites" list for a long time to come.