Established restaurant pivots to wine club biz
Domaćin Restaurant of Stillwater, MN was doing a strong business for over a decade when it was shut down by pandemic regulations. And it roared back to life as a new and popular wine club with delivery service.
In this week’s Q&A with Boxerbrand blog Recipe for Success, Domaćin’s brand ambassador Chris Kohtz discusses how the restaurant made lemonade from the proverbial lemons.
BB: How did covid inspire the creators of Domaćin?
CK: It has “grounded” us in the best sense of the word: it reframed what was most important to our business, our staff and our customers both in terms of business priorities and work-life balance. As a result, we will continue to focus even more on the areas most important to us, including dining, wine retail and wine education.
BB: Please describe the Domaćin Wine Club and its tiers of service.
CK: The Wine Club was actually a pivot/result of Covid. While the restaurant was shuttered, our wine shop soared. We launched e-commerce and rebuilt our website to create ways our customers could interact with us during Covid. One of our most-popular e-commerce options was a value-oriented case of wine. We launched with two membership tiers. The first, the “Founders Tier” is based on those case sales and successfully converted many of the e-commerce customers into subscriptions. It is a monthly membership, a full case selected by our staff, for $150. The second, the “Collector’s Tier” is $250 a month and focuses more on upper-tier, rare and unique selections, generally one to six bottles each month. We’ll be launching a third tier soon.
Q: Was Domaćin a restaurant before the Wine Club started?
CK: The restaurant has been in operation for 13 years. Our wine shop launched about six years ago and the wine club just last year.
BB: Does the restaurant’s partnership have a background in hospitality?
CK: The business partners that launched the restaurant thirteen years ago were friends, a past employee and a customer of the restaurant in our space before we launched. They brought a mix of industry experience, small business leadership, entrepreneurism and a passion for great wine and customer service.
BB: What was the biggest obstacle you faced during startup, and how did you overcome it?
CK: Rehiring our staff and controlling food costs. Both continue to be our industry’s most significant challenges. We are fortunate to be where we are at and will continue to solve our way through issues one at a time.
BB: What makes you optimistic about the future?
CK: Our customers have been behind us 100% and since we have been able to open the restaurant completely, we have been incredibly busy. We have a good team and take a team-based approach to setting agendas and problem solving. — Domaćin Restaurant uses Boxerbrand’s Classic Leather product line in its table presentation. Thank you!