Molly’s rises quickly in popularity

By Gina Quilici

DeKalb’s newest bar, Molly’s, 1022 W. Lincoln Highway, first opened its doors to the public only five months ago, yet it already ranks among the most popular social spots in DeKalb.

The atmosphere of the bar has been called “upper scale casual” and attracts a diverse crowd of patrons. The lighting is low in the evening, and the DJ plays a wide range of music from classic rock to dance mixes. The staff is always friendly and the service is prompt, unlike many other recreational places. At Molly’s the emphasis isn’t on getting out of hand; it’s having a great time.

For Chris Carpenter, one of Molly’s three managers, a lot of hard work and planning went into creating the winery-eatery. Carpenter sensed oncoming success after Molly’s was “packed opening night and has been that way every Thursday, Friday and Saturday since.”

Carpenter attributes some of Molly’s success to its convenient location and the quality of materials that went into its design. For example, the mosaic, ceramic tile floor was all hand laid, and the custom-built mahogany bar would cost at least $40,000 to reproduce. Molly’s interior is accented by some interesting and out of the ordinary antiques, all collected by Carpenter’s mother.

One such antique is of particular interest. It is a wood hutch that is now used as the passageway for food orders between Molly’s and its neighbor to the left, Sgt. Pepper’s. The hutch was the property of Susie Pembrook-Jones. It was purchased by Carpenter’s mother at an auction shortly after Pembrook-Jones’ departure from DeKalb.

One thing that sets Molly’s apart from the competition is its special attention to wine. Molly’s is connected to The Bottle Store, and this allows Carpenter to easily expand the menu of wine and other drinks. Over 1,000 different types of wine alone are available.

Carpenter has purchased a wine preserving machine called a Cruvinet that allows him to keep seven different wines “on tap” to be sold by the glass instead of purchasing the whole bottle. The selection of wines in the Cruvinet changes about every other month to allow Molly’s customers the opportunity to taste wines they might not be able to afford by the bottle. Molly’s also allows its customers a sample of the wine before purchasing it because Carpenter feels “you shouldn’t buy it if you’re not going to like it.”

Like every other bar Molly’s does carry a standard house wine, but Carpenter finds that he sells a lot more wine from the Cruvinet than he does of the house wine. Molly’s is the only establishment in the area that features a Cruvinet; the next closest location for one is in Geneva.

Vast variety isn’t all that can be found about wines at Molly’s. In a joint effort with its neighbor and partner The Bottle Store, also owned by the Carpenter family, Molly’s offers a wine club which entitles its members to many benefits that are detailed in pamphlets found in the store. The Bottle Store features an area called “Professor Vino’s Wine Lab.” Here the customer can find a small refrigerator containing various wine samples.

Also present is an amazing wine selecting computer. The first screen asks its user to choose the general food group or purpose for which the wine will be used. The second screen gives a more detailed menu within the food group chosen. From that point the users select the attributes that they wish the wine to have such as tangy, fruity, dry etc.

The final screen presents the name of the selected wine chosen specifically for the user’s purpose, and it gives the wine’s cost, year and location in the store. The computer also gives additional advice on the best way to serve the selected wine and other dishes that it goes well with. After retrieving the wine from its bin it can be chilled within three minutes in another machine housed in “The Wine Lab.”

Carpenter hopes that making Molly’s appeal to everyone’s tastes will “cause people to start spending more time on the west end of town at places like Molly’s and The Paradise Club.”