D’Vine wine bar to open Feb. 12 replacing Three Cellars in Oak Creek
Imagine having a cold beer or a freshly poured glass of wine after a long day and cozying up in front of a stone fireplace with beautiful wooden beams stretching from the ceiling.
No, you don’t need a cabin in the Wisconsin Northwoods to enjoy this scene, just visit D’Vine, a new beer and wine bar at 7228 S. 27th St. in Oak Creek.
Lannon’s stone fireplaces were originally grills used for steaks when the location was Rafters supper club, which closed in 2010. The grills were converted into fireplaces by former tenant, Three Cellars, who moved into the space in 2017 but closed in 2019.
Renting the space to open D’Vine is Greenfield couple Andrew Johnson and his fiancée Amie Johnson. They hope to provide a “casual but enjoyable atmosphere,” she said.
“We love space,” said Amie Johnson. “We are very passionate and all-inclusive.”
The D’Vine trade name has “elements of class and elegance”, said Andrew Johnson. His brother, a Milwaukee police officer, invented it.
D’Vine opens to the public at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Maintaining “historical nostalgia”
Oak Creek has grown a lot since the closure of Three Cellars and Andrew Johnson said he hopes to “grow with the region”. Although changes are happening within the company, Johnson wants to preserve the past while embracing some modern features.
“The goal is not to erase history but to maintain historical nostalgia,” he said.
Unlike Three Cellars owner Shawn Vollmer, who made the decision not to have TVs showing shows or sports in the facility, D’Vine installed 10 large flat screens ready to display the latest Packers, Brewers games and Bucks.
Tracy Rutowski, a friend of the owners who helps out with the business, said another major addition to the business is its cocktail menu. She said the atmosphere and offerings were unlike anything else in the area.
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Instead of bar stools, tables, and chairs, D’Vine has created a living room where guests can relax and unwind on a comfy couch or chair by one of the fireplaces. It’s not necessarily the style of drinking establishment that you close at 2 a.m., but rather that you gather with friends for a relaxing evening, the couple said.
“We want a place where everyone feels comfortable,” said Aime Johnson.
One area that has been retained is a small room with a large circular table reminiscent of the back rooms seen in classic gangster movies where cards and fists were dealt. In its early days, the building was a second home for various mobsters, Johnson said. He highlighted a door in the small room which he said should allow entry and exit without the gangsters needing to pass customers.
Now Andrew Johnson has said he plans to use the back bar space next to this special room for wine tastings.
Frank Sinatra is a famous visitor who is part of the building’s history. There is a room named after him with special decor. Johnson modified it to make it “more accessible” and complete with three 75-inch TVs.
Banquet hall, craft beer and artisan craft sale
A short hallway off the Frank Sinatra Room leads to a large banquet hall that can accommodate up to 135 people, ideal for events like weddings or large birthday parties. Johnson said he’s already gotten a few signups through word-of-mouth promotion. When the weather improves, tent events can take place on the terrace outside the banquet hall and in the parking lot directly adjacent to the terrace.
Johnson said he hoped to come up with “food truck nights” as a possible event.
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While 20 craft beers are on offer, the food is not on tap directly from D’Vine. It can be delivered through other local partnerships, Johnson said, such as Italian restaurant Vivere on East Rawson Avenue. He said his goal is to partner with restaurants that can have the food delivered at the same time as if it had been prepared on site.
A small store inside D’Vine offers local beers for sale, such as Panther Pilsner from UW-Milwaukee/Milwaukee Brewing Co. Unique crafts and other goodies will also be available for purchase, including WL Woodworking creations.
Other sellers are Sammi & Co., which offers candles, essential oils and more, and Pickled Oak which sells handmade signs and gifts.
Flip houses and find this place
Andrew Johnson worked for Journal Communications for 20 years before pursuing D’Vine. The couple have been involved in real estate, including house flipping, and plan to continue.
“It’s a full plate, but that’s where our passion lies,” said Andrew Johnson.
They own the building that houses Harbor Lights, a bar in Sheboygan. Both said they have a good relationship with the owners of this establishment and by watching them operate they have learned some things that they hope to incorporate into Oak Creek.
Amie Johnson is also a freelance stylist and that’s how the couple first discovered the location – she found the listing on Craigslist for one of the old motel rooms attached to the building. Rooms have been converted into various office spaces, though most are filled with stylists, including Pure Beauty (Amie’s) and Nichole’s Vanity Hair.