Bet your ‘glasses’ – first-of-its-kind wine bar debuts in Incline Village
Special to the Bonanza
Serving 26 wines by the glass — and 16 of those in “The Wine-Lover’s Candy Store” machine — Rob and Kathleen Martens have decided to pursue their passion by recently opening Glasses Wine Bar in the Village Shopping Center.
When the couple started looking at locations in Incline Village in March 2016, they were immediately drawn to the Village Shopping Center due to its shopping, traffic through the post office and proximity to the beach.
They signed a lease in July and completely demolished the old Bar Bar Bar interior.
“We did all the demolition ourselves, took everything down to the studs,” Kathleen says. They chipped out the painted brick, ripped out the carpet and replaced it with hardwood floors, and removed the popcorn ceiling.
“It was three and a half days of both of us being on ladders,” says Rob.
Kathleen added that she wanted to be open by Thanksgiving, but quickly “learned the definition of Tahoe Time.” They were still able to get open before Christmas on Dec. 22.
The end product is a contemporary, inviting space with natural light flowing through and owners who offer many varietals at different price points.
“The first time I came here was 23 years ago when my dad brought me skiing,” says Kathleen Martens. “I was sitting at Snowflake Lodge and told him, ‘this is where I belong.’”
‘PROVIDE THAT NEIGHBORHOOD FEEL’
Originally from Maryland, Kathleen was planning to move to Incline Village and work as an elementary school teacher.
She was talking to Sierra Nevada College and Lake Tahoe School to get a job lined up. But then her life took a little detour.
“You know what they say, ‘be careful what you wish for, you might just get it?’” asks Kathleen. “I joined eHarmony and met Rob (Martens).”
Dealing in patents and copyrighting for IT services, Rob wasn’t committed to his career. As they fell in love, the couple realized that they both had a passion for wine and Lake Tahoe.
“The first time I came here was in 1976, but I haven’t made it back since Kathleen and I got together in 2006,” Rob says.
The couple eventually bought a home in Incline in 2012 and then moved here full-time in 2015.
“We love wine and always went to a winery in Maryland that we liked,” says Kathleen. “We wanted to bring those elements here and have a coffee bar-like feel for wine.
“I also wanted to have lots of books because I’m a teacher,” she adds, pointing to their logo which integrates reading glasses and glasses of wine.
“In Maryland we had an annual neighborhood crab feast where we got to know everyone. We shared everything,” says Rob. “We want to get to know the community here, provide that neighborhood feel.”
That’s partly the reason why Glasses shares books, games, magazines and offers free WiFi.
“We always say that we would rather look at pine trees than palm trees,” Kathleen adds.
‘HERE FOR THE COMMUNITY’
“The other impetus for starting this was we love learning about wine by the glass,” says Rob.
“I drink reds and Rob drinks whites, so we could never share a bottle of wine,” Kathleen adds.
The couple said that a fourth of their investment in the wine bar is in the machines — the new, innovative, by-the-glass machines allow a person to insert a chip-equipped open-tab dispenser card and self-pour wines by the glass.
The machines feature extended life of the wine through argon preservation that meets the shared goal of the owner and the customer by delivering a high quality glass of wine.
It maximizes revenues with portion control and prevents waste. Selecting a 4-oz. pour of the Grenache on tap, the delicious soft red vino comes out at the perfect ration and temperature.
It is also important to the owners to be as environmentally friendly as possible — one of the first things they did was order a recycling bin, integrate compostable plates and utensils into their light snack offerings, serve 100 percent recyclable napkins, and placed reusable dish towels in the bathrooms instead of paper throwaway sheets.
“We’re Incline Village residents, here for the community,” Kathleen says.
In the offseason (September through May), Glasses will offer discounts to residents with IVGID Picture Passes, teachers and veterans/active military personnel.
“The reception from everyone has been so positive, so nice. We want to give a lot of thank yous to Incline for helping us get started and being patient as we work out the kinks,” Kathleen says. “We just want you to have a good glass of wine.”
Kayla Anderson is an Incline Village-based freelance writer. Email her at email@example.com.