Misses the mark in a BIG way!!
This experience left us asking, is this a business looking to thrive or is this simply a tax write off?
The LR4U crew is always looking to support local businesses but when the owners of the establishment fail to acknowledge their patrons, we are left with a feeling of disconnect. Should we support a business with our hard earned money who fails to even acknowledge we exist? You make the call!!
Let’s set the scene… Stan is home alone and looking to get out and socialize, whatever that means. He rallies up the crew and one of us suggest a new place. The new wine bar downtown. So we head out!!
We’ve been hearing some things about Blend Wine Room downtown and we’re dying to give it a try. We love wine!! So, this for us seems like a great addition to the downtown scene, not bar scene though.
Located in the heart of Downtown Visalia nestled between a beauty salon (Provoke), and a Mexican restaurant (Colima’s), you will find, or at least attempt to find, Blend Wine Room. As we drive down Main St. we were looking both left and right to find this place. Oh… there it is! Is it open? Looks pretty dark and secluded for a Friday night.
As we walk in we are in awe, this place is fancy. There has been some thought in designing this place. The art on the walls is eccentric and serve as conversation pieces.
The art was a mix between industrial and modern. The wine wall was intriguing and made us pause for a minute. A wall of wine that we can only wish was in our own homes.
Ok… so we pop a squat at the bar and we observe two other couples sitting at the bar and the bartender, “Derek” who was VERY welcoming. Derek offered his expertise as we are novices in picking out a decent wine. He suggested we try a tasting which included sampling a few different wines, we stuck with just reds. Derek was very personable and informative about the wines he was serving. His description was spot on and to tell you the truth we felt comfortable and at ease. They had a nice variety of red that he explained will change all of the time, it’s always nice to try wines they don’t have a Savemart.
We began to ask Derek a few questions…how long has this place been open? What’s the background behind Blend? Why isn’t this placed packed? Who owns the establishment ?
Much to our surprise, Derek pointed out a couple at the bar and advised us that they were the owners. Wow… we would never have guessed it. They we engaged in conversation with the couple next to them but never looked up from their conversation to acknowledge the new customers that just walked in.
Soooo we decided to engage with them, well Rachel anyway. We asked, so you’re the owner? To which she replied, yes. The preceding questions and answers felt almost forced, she was definitely uninterested in the new customers who were paying her establishment a visit for the first time. She was proud to tell us about how she was a lobbyist in Sacramento, about her wine bar in Kingsburg, and how this was a side business for her and her husband. Their big plans were to sell the business and retire somewhere in Mexico. At this point we were thinking that maybe this isn’t a true passion for them.
We finished up our visit and thanked Derek for the great service and recommendations. We left feeling like we wished Derek owned the place.
In true LR4U fashion, we have to give it a second try.
On our second visit we walked in as the owner, Rachel was walking out. Yet again we were oblivious to her and weren’t greeted with a much as a welcome to Blend, nothing, nada, zilch . We were greeted though by Cierra who was very welcoming and friendly. She was very knowledgeable on the wines Blend offered and this time instead of a tasting we went with her suggestion on a bottle of wine. She picked just the right one for us. We also went with a cheese board and bruschetta….both delicious. The place was still not packed on a Friday night so that gave Cierra a lot of time to engage with us, as she did. We talked about her vision for Blend and if she owned the place what she’d do to build the business. The owners need to pick her brain!!! She had some great ideas.
With all that said, let’s make like a wine bottle and put a cork in it.
The wine was good and appetizers were great but in the end they were overshadowed by the customer disconnect (by the owners). The presentation was great and the combinations were right on. The employees, Derek and Cierra, were both very informative and welcoming. When we own a restaurant or bar we will definitely be after employees like them.
We will let the pictures speak for themselves for the cheese board and bruschetta.
The experience had us feeling like we were trying to breathe life or energy into this establishment. We aren’t sure if that was a good feeling for us. There is so much potential here especially with the location first and foremost and with a beauty salon next door. What woman wouldn’t love to have a glass of wine while getting her hair done?
In the end it’s hard to support a business owner that doesn’t acknowledge its customers, even though the employees are great. For the LR4U crew we would suggest visiting Pedro at Chapala Grill or Jose at Azul simply for the customer experience. Theses guys offer a variety of wines and make some amazing cocktails and above all they make their customers feel like family.
It’s with a heavy heart that we go to the score cards.
Customer Service- 2 Stars (owners), 4 Stars (employees)
Food Quality- 3 Stars
Drink Selection- 3 Stars
Ambience- 3.5 Stars