Wine bar owners hope to bring “boutique atmosphere” to 3224 Ridge Road
By Josh Bootsma
LANSING, Ill. (January 9, 2021) – A married couple is hoping to open a wine bar near the intersection of Ridge Road and Burnham Avenue in Lansing, subject to liquor license approval from the Village.
The new business, called S.L Wine Bar, will offer an upscale environment for wine enthusiasts and casual drinkers at 3224 Ridge Road. According to a business proposal submitted to the Village of Lansing during the Village Board’s December 15, 2020, meeting, S.L Wine Bar wants to “bring a unique flair to the south suburbs while providing comfortability for customers to enjoy food, refreshments, and most importantly, a variety of tasteful wine.”
Owners Christopher and Deja Cain made a presentation at the December 15 meeting as part of their petition to receive a liquor license for their business. “We have over 15 years of experience in business operations and management in industries such as retail, restaurants, and logistics transportation,” Deja Cain said. “And we both also come from a lineage of business ownership.”
The journey to Lansing
Though both Christopher and Deja Cain were born in, and currently live in, Chicago, their paths have brought both of them through Lansing at different points in life. Deja Cain, who moved to the south suburbs from Englewood when she was young, said Lansing has always felt familiar to her. She said her aunt was the first person in her family to own a home, and that home—where family would often gather for parties, to go shopping, etc.—was in Lansing.
“Coming to the south suburbs, it just feels like home, particularly Lansing,” she said.
Christopher Cain grew up in the Washington Heights neighborhood in Chicago, near the area he and Deja currently live in the Beverly neighborhood. He said he has fond memories of working in Lansing years ago, when he helped set up and arrange the Forman Mills department store when it first opened.
During his time in Lansing, Christopher Cain said he did not have a car, meaning he had to walk all over town to get where he needed to go, which sometimes entailed walking to the Red Roof Inn for a good night’s rest before going to work the next day.
“If I had to go to the gas station, the store, to Walmart, I walked,” he said, “and that was for about a year-and-a-half I was doing that. So [Lansing] definitely holds a special part—because I have those memories.”
The couple previously lived in Calumet City.
During their December 15 presentation to the Village Board, the Cains said Lansing’s dedication to small business, its history as a village of working class citizens, and its emphasis on diversity made it the ideal location for their wine bar.
“Typically in the Illinois suburbs, particularly as you go north, I wouldn’t say that I feel like there’s a wide range of diversity in the community.” Deja Cain said. “Growing up in the south suburbs, I always felt welcome as a person of color, as a black woman. And in Lansing, I just always felt like there is a sense of diversity. I’m not saying it couldn’t be better … but growing up around this community, I always felt welcome.”
The couple said their experience with the Village and community throughout the process of opening their business has confirmed the positive feelings they already had about Lansing. “It was really refreshing, honestly,” Deja Cain said of the process.
The wine experience
In their business proposal to the Village Board, the Cains said, “After visiting the beautiful vineyards across the country, we developed a love for the taste and color of diverse wines. We enjoyed these experiences so much, it inspired us to showcase our joy through S.L Wine Bar.” The wine bar is named after Deja Cain’s grandmother who had the initials S.L.
“[Wine] is an experience,” Deja Cain said. “In my experience, wine just definitely has a certain style. When I typically go to wine vineyards and what have you, it’s truly a whole experience of going there, and I personally just wanted to bring that to life in a small aspect.”
The couple plans to have around 20 wines available at their bar at any given time, with regular rotations to accommodate seasonal and special wines. The Cains said many of their wines will be locally sourced. S.L Wine Bar will also serve beer and hard liquor, and will offer a limited food menu including items like chicken wings, flat bread pizzas, paninis, dips, cheese plates, and other sweets and snacks.
S.L Wine Bar is the second wine bar to announce it will open in Lansing. Pour on Roy announced in the spring of 2020 it would do so. Pour on Roy has been remodeling the space formerly occupied by Troost Coffee and Tea but has not yet opened to the public.
The space and timeline
The roughly 1000-square-foot space is located at 3224 Ridge Road, and will neighbor Harold’s Chicken Shack. The Cains said the property needs only aesthetic improvements to bring about the “sophisticated and chic” environment they’re hoping for. The business will be able to hold a maximum of roughly 40 guests in a non-COVID environment, they said, and tentative hours for the business are 11:00 a.m. to midnight on weekdays, with longer hours on the weekends. The final hours, however, are limited to what the Village will allow.
The Cains currently plan to hire four employees—two bartenders and two back-bar handlers. Christopher Cain said he is currently taking sommelier classes so S.L Wine Bar can host wine tasting events as well.
The Cains hope S.L Wine Bar can open in May, pending approval from the Village of Lansing.
“We feel that this will be a unique business in the Lansing area. Something different, something new,” Deja Cain said. “We want people to have a good time. We want people to come in and feel comfortable and welcome. … We want to develop regulars, and at the end of the day, as our slogan says, ‘Good vibes only.'”
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