After spending 20 years in the jewelry business working for local luxury jewelry retailer Tivol, Wendy Sight is now planning to apply her marketing and customer service skills to another luxury product. Sight plans to open KC Cork Dork, a new wine storage and members-only tasting lounge, in Kansas City next year.
Sight and business partner Brian Dicker are planning to open for business in early 2020. Construction is currently underway on the new space, located on the northeast corner of Dicker’s company, Strahm Automation & Mailing. This primo spot is located catty-corner from the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts at 1700 Broadway Boulevard, with the members-only lounge sitting right under the iconic Strahm building’s neon sign.
The partners have put a lot of thought into KC Cork Dork's potential members. They see the concept as a service for those who live or work close to downtown and love wine, but may not have the room to store it or enjoy it at home. They also hope to appeal to people in surrounding suburbs who would like to have a place near the center of the city where they can store their own wine and enjoy it with either clients or friends and family.
“KC Cork Dork is for anyone who loves and travels for wine. We are built for people who buy cases of wine from their favorite vineyards throughout the year, who are looking for a place to ship and store between eight to 12 cases of wine in temperature-controlled wine lockers,” explains Sight. “For an additional monthly fee, KC Cork Dork members would also have 24/7 access to our luxury wine tasting lounge, where they could open their favorite bottles and share with clients, friends and family in a private, convenient and central downtown location.”
There are 150 wine lockers at KC Cork Dork, all custom made in Kansas City. They come in two sizes: an 8-case locker, which rents for $35 a month, and a 12-case locker that rents for $45 a month. Members will have an app on their phone that will allow them 24/7 access to their own wine lockers, so they can come and go as they please.
For an additional $90 a month, members will also have access to the luxurious tasting room where they can pour their own wines for themselves, or their guests, with everything from wine keys to glasses to decanters on hand. Additionally, these members will also receive invitations to private wine tastings and buying events from local and international wine reps with the convenience of having any wines purchased placed directly into their lockers for them.
Sharing a mutual love of wine, Sight and Dicker decided to offer a service in Kansas City that they feel will appeal not only to wine-lovers but also to sales reps, winery and liquor store owners who will now have a place to hold wine tastings for KC Cork Dork members, selling direct to consumer under their own licenses.
“We do not have a liquor license for this space, and therefore we cannot pour or sell anyone a glass of wine, but we can host wine reps, winery and liquor store owners in to host their own tastings for our members,” Sight explains. “Because we are a members-only club, we are not open to the public and we require all members to rent a locker from us, but then they have the option to pay the additional fee per month to use our tasting room and attend our events.”
With plenty of off-street parking located to the south of the building, Sight also plans to use the lounge to host other luxury product releases or events that highlight local or international artisans.
With its modern feel and luxury finishes, the tasting room is beautiful. Featuring room for 50 guests, it was clearly designed to make members feel both special and at home. They raised the floor of the tasting room to offer a view of the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts in addition to the urban hustle and bustle of the traffic coming and going along Broadway Boulevard.
There is a sleek black, white and gray color palette for the room, where Sight has designed a dramatic black marble bar, with contrasting sleek white subway tiles on the front and back of the bar. There are comfortable bar stools that line the bar, with a combination of high- and low-top tables scattered throughout the space for more intimate conversations. On the other side of the room, members will find a luxurious lounge with velvet couches and chairs meant for socializing. The entire space is filled with dramatic designer light fixtures and features the work of many local artists.
The lounge at KC Cork Dork will not be staffed, but the idea is to give members a place to open their own bottles and enjoy them on premise if they want to sip, swirl and savor. There is also a bathroom and a small catering kitchen, although regular food service is not currently planned for KC Cork Dork.
“We know that our business model is likely to change over time as we discover the needs of our members and how they are actually using the space,” says Sight. “By being in this building, we have room to expand and grow if we need it.”
The partners started thinking about opening KC Cork Dork about four years ago, but got really serious about two years ago, when they started to renovate a building that Dicker owned on Washington Street located directly behind the Strahm Automation & Mailing building.
“It is a red brick building with a barrel roof located at 1710 Washington; we thought it would be the perfect home for KC Cork Dork,” says Sight. “But as we started demolition and construction on the building, we had a couple approach us about wanting to buy the building to open Sequence Climb, a rock climbing gym, and we decided to let them have the building.”
Their next plan was to push ahead with the idea of opening KC Cork Dork on one of the most visible corners in Kansas City: 17th and Broadway. “When we started talking about our options, we kept coming back to wanting to be in a convenient area that had plenty of off-street parking and was located in the heart of the city, and that’s when we decided to carve out 3,000 square feet of space from Strahm’s warehouse to open KC Cork Dork,” Sight says.
KC Cork Dork is hosting an open house event that will be open to the public on Nov. 22 and 23 from 6 to 9pm to show off the wine lockers and lounge to anyone interested in seeing the space. Luxury handbag designer Kimberly Pucci will also be on hand with her leather samples ready to take orders for a bespoke bag from her collection, along with Italian lighting designer Fillipo Rossi of Axolight. Appetizers and wine will also be on offer.
Those interested in attending KC Cork Dork’s open house should RSVP to email@example.com.
KC Cork Dork, 1700 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, Missouri, 913.351.1351, facebook.com/kc.corkdork