New owners of Papa di vino’s bring different strengths to the table

~Article by Connor Mitchell
The new owners of Papa di vino’s, Jodie Knight, Jill Loewen and Michael Sullivan, are long-time friends with a love of wine and food, and an appreciation for all the trappings that go with owning a wine bar.

The trappings, in fact, are a big part of the draw for the three long-time Salemites.

“I appreciate the social aspect of wine and the people who drink wine,” Knight said.

“Fun is one of our main agenda items,” Sullivan said.

While all three say they enjoy fine wine and socializing with customers, they bring different strengths to the table.

Loewen, who grew up in an almond orchard in California, brings a fascination for wine that spans from the vineyard to the wine-making process.

“I enjoy the whole process of what goes into making the wine,” she said. “I go out to vineyards, talk to growers and try to get a feel for what goes into growing the grapes and making the wine.

“The end product is fascinating to me,” she said.

Loewen looks for color, smell and most importantly, taste, when sampling wine.

Knight, who grew up in Salem, brings a flair for customer service that she picked up early in life.

Her father owned the once prominent Salem restaurant Via Florencia. And Knight has worked in restaurants off and on since she was a sophomore in high school.

Sullivan also is a veteran of food service, dating back to the age of 15 when he made biscuits for a restaurant in downtown Salem. Today he owns a catering business and specializes in wine and food pairings, often working with winery owners.

He has written over 1,000 recipes and plans to bring many into the wine bar.

“We’re going to change the menu frequently to highlight different wine and food pairings,” he said.

The secret to pairing wine with food, Sullivan said, is to emphasize the characteristics of the wine. “Put the wine first,” he said.

The current menu, which the wine bar unveiled in early November, includes seasoned olive oil and artisan bread; a hummus duet of white and black bean hummus that comes with an assortment of crackers and pita chips; and three bistro cakes, including a salmon cake served with a lemon garlic aioli, a Tuscan chicken cake served with honey mustard aioli, and a fresh tomato bistro cake served with a sour cream and chive mixture.

Sullivan also had added French blankets, which is his take on the classic quesadilla. It combines a flour tortilla, brie, spinach, Dijon mustard and a lemon garlic aioli.

In addition to expanding the menu, the three plan to expand Papa di vino’s wine selection. The wine bar currently features about 150 selections, Sullivan said. They’d like to double that.

Also, they plan on renovating and expanding the bar.

There is one thing they don’t expect to change.

“We’re going to continue to have fun,” Sullivan said. “If you’re going to be in a business, you better enjoy what you do, or you might as well go home.”

Papa di vino’s is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 10 p.m.

It features live music Tuesdays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., and special prices for women on Women and Wine Wednesdays.

Papa di vino’s is located just off South Commercial at 1130 Royvonne Ave. SE, #104. Phone is 503-364-3009.

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