Remember the days you used to be able to sit in a bar or restaurant and linger for hours and hours over your favorite drink? Those times may be on pause for now, but there is an awesome alternative.
"Birch Road Cellar is that place that you come to with a friend that you want to hang out with all night and just have a great bottle of wine and talk," said co-founder Sharon Provins with a grin.
Located on Seattle's First Hill, it's the city's original BYOB club. According to their website, "Birch Road Cellar is your best night out that feels like the perfect night in. You don't need a bartender. You don't need a DJ. You don't need a fancy cocktail menu. All you truly need is the space to do what you want; how you want it."
Okay, a BYOB venue is seriously cool!
"The idea was born actually when me and my childhood best friend who I grew up with on Birch Road [in the Chicago suburbs] were reconnecting," said Provins. "And we wanted to go out and have a great bottle of wine and just talk all night. So we thought, why can't there be a place where you can bring your own bottle, have a conversation, and not be distracted. So, we decided to do it!"
Birch Road Cellar is kind of like a bar with one major difference. According to Provins, "A BYOB club is a place you come, and you already have your own collection." Members store their beloved bottles in "The Cellar."
"We keep The Cellar temperate controlled at 57 degrees and between 60-70% humidity. So it's perfect for storing wine, but our members store whiskey, their favorite tequilas, their favorite mixers, everything that they need to enjoy a night."
But, this is NOT your grandpa's stodgy club.
"Our members really appreciate the diversity and the casual environment that we've created," said Provins. "We actually love supporting local restaurants and our friendly neighbors. So, we encourage our members to bring in takeout."
And if a long-term commitment seems a bit scary right now, this may be the place for you.
"We are also commitment-phobes, so we are month to month. We really want members to want to be here."
For folks like Shayda, it's a wonderful place to relax and unwind.
"It's a social club that you can come to at the moment, [in] small groups and spend time together and enjoy the company of your friends and family members."
Speaking of small groups, Birch Road Cellar strictly adheres to the current safety standards.
"We provide masks for anyone whose forgotten them, we have gloves, hand sanitizer galore everywhere," said Provins. "We sanitize each area with reservations, and we obviously limit capacity."
There are two locations in the Chicago area, and this one, with a special tie to Seattle's past.
"So we are [located] in the carriage house of Stimson Green Mansion, one of the oldest businesses or residences in Seattle and First Hill. It was built in 1901, and the Carriage House used to house a horse and a cow that belonged to the Stimson family. Later, when the house was acquired by the Green family, it housed Mr. Green's really famous car collection."
Although it's housed in a historic building, this place is hi-tech — once you become a member, you have access to the club through fingerprint access. And there are plenty of spots to sit and sip. Provins took us on a little tour.
"We have a number of different spaces that members can reserve. We've got areas that seem like your own little living room. We've got a corner high tops that are great for enjoying some causal takeout and some beer. And upstairs, we have a hayloft, which is great if you just want to pop open your laptop and get out some emails during the day. We have a private conference slash dining room."
This place is like a deliciously crafted cocktail, with a sense of community as the main ingredient.
"The best part of it for me is finding how rewarding it is to see members come back to the club after we've been closed during the Pandemic - to see them reconnect with friends that they haven't seen in a while."
That's something that we call all raise a glass to — cheers!