Tampa Tribune: Restoration Hardware wants to pair shopping with a glass of vino


Tribune staff

— Four stories of furniture and home décor store can take some traipsing through.

That could be why Restoration Hardware wants to pair shopping at their new International Mall store with a glass of Napa Valley chardonnay.

Restoration is planning to sell glasses of wine to shoppers to enjoy as they amble through the upscale store that is slated to open later this year. Bottles of wine will also be for sale for customers to take home.

The shop and quaff concept has been tried at six Restoration stores but will be a first for the company in Florida where it has six other stores. City Council members on Thursday night gave the first of two approvals needed for the store’s application for a special alcohol permit, which allows sales of beer and wine.

“It’s an enhanced experience for customers given the prevalence of online shopping now,” said Anne Pollack, a land-use attorney with Fletcher and Fischer who represented the store.

The store is under construction at the site of the Champps Americana restaurant on the north side of the mall.

It will mirror other “gallery” stores Restoration has opened in Boston and Connecticut that feel like private homes where everything is for sale. In the “bedrooms,” customers can buy the sheets, pillows, the wardrobes and the lamps. In the “bathrooms,” customers could pick out faucets, towel racks and scales.

The store would also include a roof garden to showcase outdoor furniture and fittings. Wine would be sold from wine bars around the store.

Including the open-air fourth floor, it has 59,000 square-feet of retail space. By comparison, Super Walmart stores are roughly 100,000 square feet.

“The store is very large,” Pollack said. “They’re looking to put out their entire line because customers want to touch and feel and see furniture before they buy it.”

The opportunity to drink while shopping would be somewhat unusual in the Bay area. Stores like Nordstrom’s include a restaurant that sells wine but drinks must stay within the restaurant.

All of Channelside Bay Plaza is designated a “wet zone” meaning customers can buy a drink in the establishment and wander around the plaza provided the beverage is in disposable cup.

Tampa also recently passed a new open-container law allowing residents on the Riverwalk to carry alcoholic beverages purchased from select locations and served in a special plastic cup that bears the Riverwalk logo.

Final approval for Restoration’s alcohol permit could come on July 16.

Councilman Mike Suarez who voted in favor of the permit said it was one of the stranger requests to come in front of the city council.

“It is at the mall, so there’s not much effect on our neighborhoods,” he said. “We were laughing about it; we think it’s the funniest thing ever.”

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