Shop Cuvée, the retail concept born out of wine bar and bistro Top Cuvée’s pandemic-induced pivot, has announced that it is going permanent
‘We had such an amazing response from all our existing customers, many locals have directly asked us to make the shop a permanent fixture,’ said Brodie Meah, who co-owns Top Cuvée along with Max and Noel Venning of Dalston bar Three Sheets.
Meah explained that while online retail ‘has always been on [Top Cuvée’s] agenda’, covid-19 sped up the process. When venues throughout the UK were forced to close in March, the team transformed their north London restaurant into a shop selling wine, cocktails, food, non-perishables and other groceries both online and in person. They have since built a system for making national deliveries, as well.
‘A major part [of our business during the pandemic] has been the online store, fulfilling thousands of orders all over the UK, so it’s essential we have a place to run that side of things.’
The team is now searching for a new location to house Shop Cuvée near its current space in Highbury, as they intend to reopen Top Cuvée as a bistro once bars and restaurants are allowed to resume trading. ‘We are looking local to the restaurant, which will allow us to use the shop as a sort of cave à vin for the restaurant’s wine list, a model seen often around Paris,’ Meah commented.
Amid the challenges and uncertainty brought on by covid-19, the restaurant-turned-retailer has offered one example of how the hospitality industry can adapt – and while its approach certainly isn’t feasible for everyone in the on-trade, some level of diversification could help safeguard businesses moving forward.
‘We see the future of our industry and retail as using spaces more creatively in a multi-functional way,’ said Meah. ‘[Retail] is a lot of work to do well and you really have to be committed… hence the reason for us finding a dedicated space. What I'm sure we will see more of is products from restaurants to be sold retail, such as sauces, meal kits and bottled cocktails.’ Items soon to be stocked in Shop Cuvée, no doubt.