Unique Wine Experience at Flight 112
Wine house owner Frank Sibr talks about his organic wines and his strong customer loyalty.
Flight 112, an organic wine house in downtown Elmhurst, is part of the Mecca Building, which also is home to Effigy Salon, Glitch Art Gallery and Park Avenue Wellness.
Offering more than 50 wines from around the world, Flight 112 also sells 50 microbrew beers from national and international breweries. Wine prices range from $16 to $70 per bottle, but most of the menu is under $40. Flight 112 carefully chooses the food served to compliment the wines, and the menu changes with the seasons.
The shop works hard to create a casual bar atmosphere where the focus is luxury wine. Patch caught up with Flight 112 owner Frank Sibr to talk about the inspiration for the wine house.
Elmhurst Patch: When did Flight 112 open and what was your inspiration for creating a wine house?
Frank Sibr: We opened up in December of 2008, and our motivation was to create a place for everyday people to have a luxury wine experience. My business partner owned a wine shop in Lombard before this, and we realized there aren't many places with a casual bar atmosphere specializing in wine. We visited lots of wine bars, but they seemed to focus on food and less on wine. We wanted a place where the focus is the beverage and every food item is a compliment to the wine.
Elmhurst Patch: How did you get started in the wine industry? Did either of you work as a sommelier?
Sibr: My partner started as a liquor store owner. He owned a few stores in the suburbs and converted one of them into a wine shop called 20 West Wines in Lombard. We met in downtown Lombard, where I own a hair salon. This job is my first experience in the wine industry, but I've been managing businesses for several years.
Elmhurst Patch: What percentage of your customers are part of your monthly wine club? Why do you think people are willing to pay $35 a month for the membership?
Sibr: I would say about 50 percent of our customers subscribe to our wine club, and the other half are walk-ins. The membership fee is very small when you look at the benefits you get with it. The membership gives you great discounts on all our wines, it allows access to our classes so you learn more about wine making and tasting. We also hold monthly tastings for our members, where all food and drinks are free.
Elmhurst Patch: Why do you offer only organic wines?
Sibr: The two concepts we maintain throughout our business are pushing organic foods and sustainable energy. We feel that people want organic wine because it's better for their health and it leaves less of an environmental impact. It takes much less energy to produce organic wines. We use organic products throughout our building.
Elmhurst Patch: The recession has hit lots of businesses hard and has forced companies to get creative about attracting new customers and keeping their current clients. What have you done to keep up your wine memberships?
Sibr: One of the things we're really pushing are our wine events. I think with the challenging economy, you have to give real value to people. People have money to spend. Disposable income is still there but they want to get the most value for their dollar. These wine events have live music and a great atmosphere. They give people a real reason to spend money. Another benefit to our building is that you can get many services done under one roof. You can visit our hair salon, day spa and then buy a bottle of wine for the evening. Because all these businesses are owned by us, we offer discount packages. It saves people time and money.
Elmhurst Patch: Do you have an events coordinator that works with clients planning parties? Do you get very hands-on with them?
Sibr: Yes, we have a marketing director and events coordinator who works with clients. The first thing we ask people is what kind of experience they would like to have with their event. If they have a very specific answer and a detailed plan for their experience, then we let them plan it out. If they're not so sure what kind of experience they want, then we'll work with them more closely.
Elmhurst Patch: Where do you see Flight 112 five years from now? Any plans for expansion, new wines or menus?
Sibr: When we started the building, we knew we would build things in phases. The next phase is creating our own energy. We'd like to be a completely self-sustaining building. We're also planning a rooftop deck with a garden. In October and November we'll be serving breakfast at night as part of our food menu.