Before The Wine & Oyster opens on a mid-week afternoon, people are calling to check on reservations—and to ask if they can brings their dogs with them. The answer to this question is a resounding “yes.”
Owner Steve Klein is a dog lover who welcomes patrons and their canine companions to the upscale bar in Biltmore Village, which he and his wife, Nan, opened last summer as Virgola.
To emphasize the main attraction of wines and fresh oysters, the Kleins recently re-branded with a new name while also moving away from their initial franchise affiliation.
Steve says the transition from a franchised operation to an independently owned business has given him the freedom to make changes that include a more comprehensive selection of wines, plus additional menu items.
“We saw different needs to be filled,” Steve says. “We are maintaining our foundation, but building our own identity.”
Since the name change in January, The Wine & Oyster has expanded its menu by adding fresh ingredients and new items including flatbreads, cheeses and charcuterie plates.
And the expanded wine list is one that patrons are able to clearly read and make decisions according to taste, he notes. Previously, only Italian wines were available.
Some menu items such as the bread from West End Bakery and truffles are locally sourced, Steve notes.
The bar also has a full liquor license and now offers a variety of cocktails, some of which feature local products.
Appealing to local residents is another goal for the Kleins.
“The people in the local community are our priority,” Steve, who envisions a Cheers-type bar where people regularly come to relax and socialize.
On the weekends, patrons at The Wine & Oyster can enjoy live music performed by local musicians who play a wide variety of tunes from contemporary to classic and jazz.
The décor has also changed along with the name prominently featured at the establishment. An eye-catching graphic of iconic performers that include Elvis Presley and Sammy Davis Jr. dominates a wall in the area with red leather lounge furnishings.
Three-dimensional paintings with wine themes are displayed on another wall near the entrance of the bar.
“I think we have a great product … a nice ambience here,” Steve says.
Steve and his wife also are enjoying life in Asheville after moving here from the Washington, D.C. area where he worked as a mortgage banker. He got the idea of opening and wine and oyster bar after visiting one in New York.
“I fell in love with the concept,” he says.
The Kleins also relish owning a family business, which Nan’s stepson, Jason Schaffer, recently joined.
Along with a desire to appeal to the local community, the Kleins also hold special events and fundraisers for charities that include Friends of the Smokies, Habitat for Humanity, Manna Food Bank and Caring for Children.
“Our focus is being a part of the community giving back,” Steve says.
The establishment is also available for private parties and events such as rehearsal dinners. A happy hour is offered Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. along with daily specials including a 50 percent discount on wine by the bottle on Wednesday.
The Wine & Oyster is open daily from 4 p.m. – 10 p.m. Mon – Thurs.; and 3 p.m. – 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday evening. Ample free parking is available at the shopping center at 2 Hendersonville Rd.
For more information visit www.thewineandoyster.com or call 828-676-2700.
By Sandra Barnes