Sam & Jennifer Demel aren’t just a North Texas real estate power couple – they’re also the owners of Thirty Eight & Vine here in The Foundry District.
38 & Vine is an incredibly inventive wine bar that uses a card & tap system, showcasing a selection of over forty rotating wine taps. Specializing in bringing wines from far and wide to Fort Worth, this Foundry staple became a fixture almost immediately.
Check out our interview with the Demels to learn what inspired this unique business.
Fort Worth is our home, so we always knew we’d be back here when my playing career was over. What’s great about starting a business here is that it isn’t a proving ground for new ideas like the East or West Coast. Instead, we get to take the best concepts and introduce them to an audience hungry for innovation in our own backyard.SAM DEMEL, The Demel Group
After Sam transitioned away from baseball and both of you earned an award-winning reputation in real estate, what inspired you to launch additional business like 38 & Vine?
Traveling the East Coast and West Coast during Sam’s baseball career, and keeping an eye on the business climate back home in Fort Worth, we saw that there was a short delay between new concepts finding success on the coasts and then arriving in Texas. We’d fallen in love with self-serve wine bars elsewhere, and the timing was kind of perfect.
As we were looking at getting a self-serve wine business off the ground, Texas passed legislation making it legal to run a wine bar with this concept. From there we were off to the races!
In addition to the wine selection, the experience of 38 & Vine is truly unique, with the card system and self-serve concept. What led you to this innovative approach and why do you think patrons have responded so positively?
While we were among the first to do it in Texas, we weren’t the first self-serve wine concept nationally. There are some amazing businesses in New York and California that have perfected the concept, and we got to learn from what worked and didn’t work in those spaces.
As far as a customer response, it’s been incredibly positive! The number one comment we hear from customers is that they love being able to try a handful of different wines during a single visit, rather than agonizing over a single bottle to purchase. It’s the variety that people expect from a cocktail bar or a craft brewery, and they’re happy to have it at a wine bar now too.
Unfortunately, we’ve had to pivot to a traditional bottle concept during the COVID-19 pandemic, but we look forward to turning the taps back on again as soon as safely possible!
With the 42 curated taps constantly rotating, you’ve had the chance to try an innumerable amount of different wines. Do you have any personal favorites that are a can’t-miss selection the next time they’re on tap?
Absolutely! From day one, our favorite wine on-tap has been anything from J. Davies. It’s just incredible. As far as something unique to the area that we recommend not missing, we’ve recently been showcasing Lebanese wine, which isn’t something you don’t see every day in Texas. It’s really delicious and a bit different from other varieties.
In general, we take a very broad approach. We actually don’t showcase a ton of local/Texas wine because it’s so easy to find around here. We view our purpose as providing a customer-friendly window into a much larger world of wine.
You’ve earned a reputation for collaboration with other local businesses and partners – are there any upcoming partnerships in the works?
We really believe that this business community is at its best when everyone is working together. We try to have as many local business partnerships as possible, and those partnerships go beyond bringing in other local food & beverage businesses. We’ve had pet adoption events through Pups For Cups and we’ve also brought in local flower vendors selling roses around Valentine’s Day.
How has your business adapted in response to COVID-19 realities?
At 38 & Vine, we’re lucky to have a talented, innovative General Manager who has helped to shift our philosophy and find unique ways to stay profitable. We made the shift to a traditional bottle menu to provide the safest possible experience. We also dramatically expanded our food menu and the size of our charcuterie boards to make 38 & Vine a singular evening destination, rather than one stop among many.
That’s a shift we’ve seen in customer behavior – folks are going out more and more, but they’re really only visiting one destination. So, we’ve made strategic choices to make 38 & Vine a more substantial only stop of the evening spot.