Longtime Best Friends Bring Tarrytown Together With Its First Wine Bar
Now There’s Wine and Pizza in the Neighborhood
By Darcie Duttweiler
Photos by Weston Carls
When two childhood best friends collaborate to open a new wine bar in their old neighborhood, it’s just what the neighborhood ordered.
Flo’s Wine Bar & Bottle Shop, the brainchild of Flo Clemons and Adair Belisle, is the missing thread in Tarrytown’s social fabric.
“We totally worked in reverse from what a lot of people do with restaurants. We found the location and then we started to develop the concept,” Clemons laughs.
The two friends opened Flo’s on the corner of West 35th and Pecos Street in March. They originally wanted to focus on a wine retail space like long-standing institution Austin Wine Merchant.
But they knew they needed to create a place where neighbors and friends could actually hang out — an option sorely lacking in the Tarrytown area where they grew up.
“We truly wanted a neighborhood spot, and one day Flo drove past this space and saw it was for lease,” Belisle chimes in. “We never thought we’d get it, and we took it as a sign that it was meant to be.”
First Comes Friendship, Second Comes Wine
Clemons and Belisle have known each other since they were eight years old and both attended St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. While Belisle went the finance route (she studied engineering and was a financial analyst and project manager in oil and gas, then got her MBA from the University of Texas), Clemons inadvertently followed in her father’s footsteps.
Growing up, Clemons was embarrassed her dad Reed didn’t wear a suit to work like all the other fathers. Instead, he worked in the Austin restaurant industry, owning and operating some of the city’s best downtown restaurants in the 1990s, like Mezzaluna, Bitter End, and Granite Cafe.
Flo routinely watched TV and did homework in her dad’s back office. Reed now co-owns three Grove Wine Bars around town.
It wasn’t until Clemons took a “blow-off” course about wine during her senior year at College of Charleston that she began to entertain the idea of following in her father’s footsteps.
She ultimately decided to pursue the passion, earning a certification through Napa’s Culinary Institute of America and learning from the best in the country.
MORE: How Austin’s Wine Scene Embraces Low-Intervention Labels
A Community Wine Hangout
Clemons and Belisle admit that the wine shop idea was spawned at midnight after several glasses of vino. But the duo was excited to bring a comfortable and stylish gathering spot to a neighborhood so dear to both their hearts.
During our interview two days before opening, several passersby popped in to inquire about the opening date. Clemons says even Lyle Lovett and his wife tapped on the window the week before to ask.
“We’re here to serve the neighborhood and build a community,” Clemons says.
Belisle adds, “We want people to feel like they’re in our living room hanging out. We designed the space to feel exactly like that.”
Tarrytown Finally Gets a Wine Bar
The space feels very cushy while still stylish and modern, with warm colors and inviting touches. The emerald tile lining the counter space is the first element that catches the eye, where guests order from a menu of 20 wines by the glass and 50-ish bottles.
Not enough? Guests can also choose from 200 retail bottles nestled within Rabbet Labs wooden shelves.
The wine selection includes bottles from both well-known and lesser-known winemakers, covering all major grape-growing regions. This means customers can find wines that are not typically available in other wine shops.
Clemons explains that the wine selection includes her 190 favorite bottles, making it an enjoyable and diverse selection for both wine enthusiasts and beginners.
Feeling The Neighborly Vibe
Adorning the shelves and walls are black-and-white Scott Newton photographs of famous women — one of which Clemons swiped from her mother Betsy, who did the space’s landscaping with her company, Dig Austin Garden.
Another photo features Dolly Parton and Governor Ann Richards at the Driskill Hotel, allegedly laughing heartily over a joke about busts.
MORE: The Inspiration Behind Four Beautiful Restaurant Interiors
In the corner, there’s a cozy lounge with brown leather banquettes and gleaming white marble tables. They make their home nestled under colorful folk art from New Orleans artist Mary Ball.
Toward the back, there is a patio that feels straight out of a neighbor’s backyard. It boasts custom wooden seating, plenty of lush greenery, twinkling lights, and a buzzing neon sign from Lucid.
There’s No Better Pairing Than Pizza and Wine
Even further back is Allday Pizza‘s order window, the long-awaited neo-New-York-style pizzeria from ex-Sammataro founders Townsend Smith and Daniel Sorg.
The lunch and dinner menu includes 16-inch pies and slices, as well as salads, meatballs and soft-serve gelato.
“We were like, ‘What goes with wine and what’s missing from this neighborhood?’ The obvious answer was pizza,” Clemons explains.
With pizza, wine, and a comfortable environment, the neighbors of Tarrytown may never need to cross MoPac again.
Flo’s Wine Bar & Bottle Shop is open Wednesday through Friday from 3 pm to 9 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 2 pm to 9 pm. It is closed Monday and Tuesday.