Perking up business
The new year brings something different for everyone, but for Chico local Michelle Power, co-owner of Bidwell Perk, it brings the 20th anniversary of the business, the 10th anniversary of her ownership, and the first full year of her new wine bar, One Mile Wines. Power, who owns the coffee house with her husband, Gentry, had the idea of opening a beer and wine bar after falling in love with them in Europe years ago. This past fall, the Powerses decided to add wine, beer, cider and champagne to the coffee shop, and at the same time expanded the food menu to include small plates infused with local ingredients. They also expanded their hours and are now open until 7 p.m. Monday-Friday and until 6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Recently, Michelle sat down with the CN&R to discuss the success so far of her new venture. Find One Mile Wines on Facebook, or go down to Bidwell Perk on East First Avenue and visit in person.
What was opening a wine bar like?
There was a huge learning curve with my staff and myself, between understanding the alcohol and creating the new small-plate menu. But my staff has been amazing; they’ve all done a really great job learning every new thing. And now that we’ve extended the hours, the café changes from the average hustle bustle of a morning coffee shop to a quiet wine and beer café in the evening.
How did you know what wines to offer?
I had a sommelier come in and we did an extensive tasting. I really tried to pick out flavors that I don’t find very often here in Chico, like the clean, good texture of our French Chardonnay, or the sparkling wine variety like the Arte Latino Brut.
Have you experienced success so far?
Oh, yes. For example, our hot ciders—that’s sort of new for Chico, even though the hot beverage concept isn’t. Those have been a hit. The new menu that includes Brie, Bruschetta and Caprese has done really well. Our regular customers give us great feedback, and we use Facebook to try to bring new customers in.
How do you use Facebook for the businesses?
We recently just did a promotion for finals week for the students. If they showed their student ID, they got $1 off of their beer or wine. We do things like that, just for fun to get people in and keep them excited about us.
Where do you see the businesses going in the next 10 years?
I would love to make One Mile Wines its own café. People don’t quite understand sometimes that One Mile Wines is inside the Bidwell Perk, so I do think separating them would be a good idea. I also envision patio seating for Bidwell Perk. I really love to listen to the customers, and that’s what I’m going to keep doing to create positive changes.