- April 28, 2017
What do you get when you combine a winery and a wine bar in an urban setting? Waters Edge Wineries.
A new location of the franchise concept is expected to open in downtown Sarasota this spring. It will be in the space formerly occupied by Social Eatery & Bar at 1219 First St., and although it’s dubbed Waters Edge Winery & Bistro at Social, it’s a completely separate concept than the previous incarnation of Social.
For one, Waters Edge will have a micro-winery tank system, a private tasting area and a chance for people to join a wine club. It will also serve appetizers, flatbreads, sandwiches, salads and desserts. Before the Sarasota Waters Edge can open, renovations to the physical space need to be completed.
Michael Hayja, Sean Castellucci and Christopher McKenna of Artisan Vinification LLC are the entrepreneurs behind the Sarasota location. Hayja brings experience from a variety of roles to the venture, from being a chef to working in hospitality management and financial services. Castellucci, Hayja’s brother-in-law, is a urologist at Urology Partners in Bradenton. Their close friend McKenna was an IBM executive for several years and now owns and runs IT Managed Solutions in the area.
Hayja tells Coffee Talk he and his business partners have sought the right business model around winemaking for several years. The vineyard model has a lot of risks, he says, from weather to diseases, while the wine bar model doesn’t have the margins they wanted. “We came across Waters Edge, and we spent quite a lot of time doing our due diligence,” Hayja says.
The Sarasota Waters Edge will be the franchise’s first location in Florida. Other Waters Edge Wineries are in California, Colorado, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas, and it’s expanding into North Carolina, Kentucky and Montana.
Hayja says, “What’s beautiful about this model is we have the ability to import grapes from some of the best wine-growing regions around the world and be able to make wine right here in Florida and bring the vineyard and wine-making capabilities to a nice urban site.”