East Crossroads residents and visitors alike will soon be able to shop for specialty groceries, sip on wine and nosh on cheese and charcuterie in one trip. Co-owners Mat “Slimm” Adkins and Jeff Jones plan to open The Pairing Crossroads Wine & Grocer in a 3,500-square-foot storefront in June.
The hybrid business concept taps into the appeal of food-and-drink pairings, such as wine and cheese or beer and chocolate.
“One of our biggest challenges so far has been trying to describe the concept because it’s such a unique thing,” Adkins says. “The Pairing will be a combination liquor store, grocer and bar with food pairings."
The bar will have seating for 30 people and a large area for the grocery section. The Pairing will serve charcuterie boards, cheese boards and dessert boards. Wine will be available for purchase by the glass; current licensing in the city prevents their proposed bar/retail business from serving beer by the glass. “Legally, our hands are currently tied and we can only serve wine,” Adkins says. “But we're working on getting that law changed so we can eventually serve beer as well.”
Adkins and Jones both have experience in the retail liquor industry that has shaped their vision for this endeavor. “I’ve worked in the industry for about eight years,” Adkins says. “I’ve managed multiple liquor stores and worked as a sales rep. I’ve seen the business from multiple angles. I’ve been in almost every liquor store in town. I started daydreaming about taking all the fun parts of the industry and combining them. The Pairing is pairing food and drink, but also pairing the fun of retail and a bar.”
In addition to management and sales, Adkins has experience in the bar industry as a doorman, bar back and bartender. Jones also contributes solid industry experience. “My good friend and business partner Jeff, who is a former liquor-store owner, brings to the table a lot of experience in the actual business side of things along with that same passion and love of the industry,” Adkins says.
The growth of the East Crossroads drew the business partners to the area. Craft breweries like Double Shift, Border, Casual Animal, Brewery Emperial and Torn Label, plus taprooms such as International Tap House attract beer fans. Other food-and-drink destinations like Mission Taco Joint, The Brick, Tapcade and KC Wineworks are located within walking distance of The Pairing’s location.
“East Crossroads is booming, to say the least. It seems every square inch is being renovated,” Adkins says. “Lots of great restaurants, bars and breweries. It’s a fun area that really seems to embrace experimental concepts – The Parlor, Howard’s and especially places like Grinders and The Brick, who laid the foundation long ago.”
The Pairing will be selective in the food, wine and beer available to guests. “A big part of our concept isn’t so much what we will carry, but maybe more what we won’t,” Adkins says. “We want to focus on independent brands, local beer, wine and cheese. Stuff some might call a little more ‘boutiquey’ so [it’s] not your typical liquor store.”
Well-established brands like Budweiser, Miller and Coors will comprise a small part of the store compared to local and regional craft beer brands. “Because the Crossroads has a thriving beer scene, we want to promote and endorse that as much as possible,” Adkins says. “I love the idea of having a cooler door full of nothing but Crossroads beers! How cool would that be?”
Adkins and Jones plan the same approach with wine. “A lot of your ‘bargain’ wines have to be bought in such quantity that we can’t compete with the box stores. That stuff is available everywhere else,” Adkins says. “ We want to focus on brands that we believe to be better but still a great price.”
Inside, The Pairing’s aesthetic will honor the East Crossroad’s artistic roots.
“When you walk in the front door, it just really has that Crossroads feel. Kinda rustic but modern,” Adkins says. “We wanted to keep that vibe with the buildout of the store. A lot of our wall space will be used for local artists. The Crossroads was really built on the art scene. We want to keep that going as much as possible. Look for rotating art and First Fridays to be a huge part of our atmosphere.”
The Pairing Crossroads Wine & Grocer, 1615 Oak St., Crossroads Arts District, Kansas City, Missouri