La Grande Rue, French for “the grand path,” takes its name from a humble strip of land in the wine country of Burgundy, France. The land is known for its position between two powerhouse wine producers, one of them being Romanée-Conti, which makes some of most sought-after wine in the world.
The Heights is soon to gain its own grand path in the upcoming La Grande Rue at 1344 Yale St., which is slated to open in February. The owners are dedicated to creating a connection to wine through approachability.
La Grande Rue is a wine bar with a wine retail space brought to the area by longtime friends Brian Doke and William Meznarich.
“Brian and I met up one afternoon in the Heights. We discussed future ventures with each other and a wine bar partnership came up,” Meznarich said. “I told him my dream job was to get back in front of customers who would like to get into wine.”
To open a wine bar had been a dream of Doke’s as well. It’s been a matter of timing, the real estate aspect and waiting for some of the pieces to fall into place.
But around a year after their initial conversation, the duo is making their dream a reality.
At the time the two spoke, Doke was already scouting out potential real estate for a restaurant. Once the idea for a wine bar and retail shop came up, Doke expanded his original idea and decided to take on opening two concepts at once.
While still separate businesses, Doke was able to find a property that would give enough space to his restaurant, Savoir, and La Grande Rue.
La Grande Rue will have hundreds of selections of wine on hand, including older vintages of Bordeaux and Burgundy, a large selection of champagnes, classics and new-school producers from the U.S., and much more.
“If you’re brand new to wine and you don’t even drink it that much, but you’re curious, you can come in,” Doke said. “We can do tastings, we can talk you through and find something that fits very appropriately for palate and/or price for what you’re looking for.”
From introductory wines to the hardest to acquire in the world, La Grande Rue will have something for everyone.
“Another major role I will be involved in is wine education for the customers and our staff. I would like everyone that walks through the door leave gaining knowledge about the ever-expanding wine world,” Meznarich said.
This wine bar will feature the typical cheese and meat plates, but because La Grande Rue will be able to utilize a kitchen onsite, the menu will be chef-curated. The portions on the menu will be somewhere between a snack and an entrée to go along with a glass of wine. Think petite burgers and housemade pastas.
The wine retail shop will have all the essentials for customers dropping by to pick up a bottle of wine on their way home — from cheese plates and fresh baguettes to a bouquet of flowers, creating a one-stop shop.
“We want to be that spot that’s always a go-to both in the Heights and in Houston as a whole for a very seriously focused wine place, but not a serious place,” Doke said. “Kind of a fun, easy day in, day out place.”
The team that is assembled for La Grande Rue gives Doke the confidence that the concept will be successful. Meznarich’s fruitful background in wine as a founder of one of the top wine distributors in Houston, and the knowledge that comes with that experience, makes Doke feel that they have an advantage.
Added to that is Doke’s own experience operating and running hospitality businesses for more than 10 years, and the rest of his management team also has experience in the industry. So La Grande Rue may be new, but the people behind it are seasoned in the hospitality world.
The team is serious about wine, but they want customers to still find the environment approachable and lighthearted.
“We are extremely proud to be part of the amazing restaurants and bars that have made the Heights a special area to call home,” Meznarich said.