Ryan Sciara is back in the wine business. On Monday, he’s set to begin the build out for his new wine shop, the Underdog Wine Co., at 319 E. 55th St. in Crestwood.
“Nobody does a 581 square foot wine store in Kansas City. You do it in Brooklyn because that’s all the space you have,” Sciara says of the space that most recently held Crestwood Salon. “But this is about getting smaller, getting back to my roots and being a real neighborhood store. I think that’s the trend for wineries too, we’ll be dealing with all of these smaller wineries.”
Sciara, who parted ways with Cellar Rat Wine Merchants in the Crossroads last July, hopes to open his store in March. Even in the Brooklyn-sized joint, he thinks he can still stock around 400 bottles. The wines will be organized on the walls in what Sciara terms a “progressive” fashion akin to a restaurant’s wine list from light-bodied whites just inside the door to rose and on to full-bodied reds. A narrow shelf stocked with small batch spirits will run through the center of the store. Underdog will also stock craft beer, in larger format bottles like Boulevard’s Smokestack Series and 22 oz. bombers.
“I’ll be here the whole time on the floor. I live two blocks away. My wife can just bring dinner down the street. I don’t have to leave,” Sciara says. “And I know that people want hands-on customer service when it comes to wine because wine can be intimidating.”
While Sciara is interested in holding tastings, he expects that might happen in conjunction with his neighbors at Cafe Europa or Aixois.
“My occupancy permit allows for 9.4 people, so I can have 8.4 people other than myself,” Sciara says.
The shop will take shape over the next two months with Second Life Studios building the cabinets and a floor made of 50-year-old reclaimed maple taken from a high school basketball gym. The business name was inspired, in part, by Sciara’s dog, Tawny, a port-colored, long-haired miniature dachsund.
“Everybody roots for an underdog, right?” Sciara says.