Smallknot Profiles: Keith Beavers, Co-Owner In Vino & Alphabet City Wine Co.
Smallknot loves local business, and every week we’re profiling the people and places that make our neighborhood special. Want to get covered in a Smallknot profile, or know someone who should be? Shoot us a message here.
This week, we’re talking to Keith Beavers, a co-owner of In Vino Wine Bar and Alphabet City Wine Co. in Manhattan’s East Village.
Keith Beavers is a wine geek. In the best possible way. Self-taught and super, super passionate about wine in the least pretentious way you can imagine, he is the co-owner of In Vino Wine Bar and Restaurant and the wine shop around the corner, Alphabet City Wine Co. We caught up with him in the store this week and talked to him about how he got started, the meaning of “Wine to the People” and running a small business in New York City.
How did you get started in wine? Where did your passion start?
I was working as a waiter at Max, an Italian restaurant in the East Village, back in 2003. Right when I got the job, the owner there decided that the staff really need to learn about wine. I started researching wine, and had this moment where I was like “Wait a second, wine is really interesting!” I had that moment in my life when it suddenly hit and I realized “I’ve got it!” Pretty much since then, I’ve been obsessed with wine; it’s never gone away. I am obsessed with reading, drinking and blogging about wine.
How did you wind up at In Vino?
I was always trying to educate the customers about wine when I was at Max. The owner moved me to his wine bar, In Vino, because I was being so ‘geeky’ about wine. I steadily became a manager, a wine director, then I helped the owner run the place. In 2006, I hired David, my co-owner, and we opened a wine shop. At the same time, the owner of In Vino was looking to sell the restaurant, so we decided to take it over.
What are some of your favorite things at In Vino and ABC Wines?
At In Vino, I love the meatballs — they’re my grandmother’s recipe! And the skirt steak too — it’s always made so well. At the wine shop, I’m really proud that the majority of wines are all between $15-20. You can get great wines without spending a ton of money, and that’s something I care a lot about.
Is that ‘Wine to the People’ means?
Yes! I’m self-taught when it comes to wine. I would buy books, buy wine, research it, understand the science and history behind it, and then blog about it. That’s how I learned about wine and how my blog got started, East Village Wine Geek. ‘Wine to the People’ was a term I came up with because I really believe wine doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. It’s my movement to teach people how to enjoy wine on an everyday basis. A lot of people just don’t realize that it’s a part of life!
Ever make your own wine?
I could tell you anything about wine, but I’ve never made it before. It’s my next project. I actually want to make a video of myself making my own wine press, finding grapes, then screwing it up completely. That humility is a part of it: I want to learn something new about wine every day and show it to people.
What’s the best thing about owning your own small business?
I love having my own business, especially here in New York. I love seeing people enjoy the food in the restaurant, watching people smile when they drink a bottle of wine, especially if it’s a wine they’ve never heard of before. I also love when people come back to the wine shop and say “Thank you for helping me pick that bottle out!”
Why the East Village?
The East Village will always have a sense of creativeness to it that I don’t think other neighborhoods can maintain most of the time. It has a long history. I love that we don’t have a lot of subway stations here. Because we don’t have that much high traffic, it makes it easier to feel like a real community.
In Vino is located at 215 E. 4th St. between Avenue A & B.
Alphabet City Wine Co. is at 100 Avenue C between E. 6th & 7th. They have wine tastings every Friday and Saturday night from 6-9pm — stop in and see what’s good!