Originally from Atlanta, Celia worked as a sommelier at Gramercy Tavern and wine director at Loring Place before coming on board as Delicious Hospitality Group’s assistant wine director in June 2021.
What’s the current situation with DHG’s restaurants?
Legacy Records just reopened in February. There were multiple factors of why it was last to reopen—no outdoor space for one, but also it’s a little quieter in that neighborhood, and it is a big space that requires a lot of people in the building to get it going. Legacy has two private dining rooms and we’ve been booking private events even back during the holidays, running with a skeleton crew. This past week, we’ve been happy to see the response of people in the neighborhood and the building residents who are excited to have another option to dine. It’s great to see just how many people are making reservations.
There have been shortages on everything—plates, silverware, and wine. I’ve never experienced this many issues with glass pours running out. My reps say it is due to long delays at ports; they order on the same schedule as always, but the delays come once the wine has shipped and hits the port. It’s more of a supply-chain issue than retail competition. We lean heavily into France and Italy, and have some domestic but not as much, so maybe that’s partly why. We’ve had a lot of trouble getting Zalto glassware. We had to switch at [DHG Nolita spot] Pasquale Jones from Zalto to Mark Thomas so we could move their Zalto glasses to Charlie Bird and Legacy Records. The shortages require you to get creative in terms of where you need to move things.
I joined in June 2021 just after Theo [Lieberman]; we were COVID-time hires. We also have a great somm team that had been there since reopening. The somm at Pasquale Jones has been here 1.5-2 years, also one of our somms at Charlie Bird. As we’ve gotten busier, we’ve been able to promote from within, move people from server to the wine team. Education has always been at the forefront of any program I’ve worked with and that’s certainly true at DHG, but having lots of new people on the team encourages me to spend more time on educational materials to make sure everyone is on the same level.
During the first year of COVID, they focused on running a leaner cellar, but it was always important that each list maintained its integrity thoughout, with some collectibles and some more affordable options. I’m grateful to walk into a program where wine is at the forefront. We’ve definitely been able to purchase a bit more as the Fall picked up, restocking some sections that we couldn’t before. We’re back to a normal full-ordering pace, and we’re lucky that we sell a lot of wine in these restaurants. We’re always looking to grow the cellar and replace some of the really unique bottles we have, but we’re also looking for values. It’s just been great working for a restaurant that values the wine cellar and really puts the wine program first. It’s been devastating talking to some friends who work for places that have really had to scale back.
Types of wines selling
We’ve gained a reputation as a place where you can come and drink crazy-good bottles without putting on a suit and tie. Those types of sales have ebbed and flowed as business dining comes and goes. Right before Christmas, we were seeing lots of business groups come in and had more volume at the high end. It dropped off again at the end of the year during Omicron, but in the last couple of months we’ve seen a nice resurgence.
We have bar seating open at Charlie Bird and Pasquale Jones. It’s a little hard to distinguish, because Charlie Bird has a bar program but wine has always been the focus, so we keep it a little scaled back with intention of keeping the focus on wine. But the restaurant is seeing a little more competition in cocktail sales than pre-covid, particularly during the week. It may be because we get a younger crowd, but also I think the people who felt more comfortable coming out to dine during COVID, particularly indoors, skewed a little younger and that might play a role.
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