Application to expand Palm Beach wine bar to be considered by City Council


M Cloutier

The only wine bar in town is looking to expand by adding more indoor space and a permanent covered terrace at the corner of South County Road and Peruvian Avenue.

The Wine Bar, on the ground floor of a two-story commercial building formerly occupied by a bank at 380 S. County Road, will seek approval of its proposed plans at council development review meeting city ​​today.

The 108-seat establishment, complete with a grand piano, brass-fronted mahogany bar and baccarat crystal chandelier, opened in December 2020 with a wine-by-the-glass program, signature cocktails, dinner and Sunday brunch.

It has since added lunch and live music.

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The expansion plans have already been approved by the city’s architecture commission at its meeting on March 23.

In a split 4-3 vote, the panel approved plans that include a 1,600 square foot extension for additional kitchen and bathroom space; a 497 square foot covered outdoor terrace; and a 350-square-foot, two-story addition to the northwest corner of the 6,000-square-foot building for waste storage.

Improved landscaping is also planned for the parking area on the west side of the property.

“What I always hear about the Bar is that it’s a unique and special place,” owner Ann Desruisseaux told the Daily News on Thursday. “This (proposed) expansion is only building on that for the convenience of our staff and guests.”

The owner of the Wine Bar, which opened at 380 S. County Road, wants to expand. [MELANIE BELL/]

The architectural board approved waiver requests, including to reduce a streetside setback for the dining terrace and to waive a required off-street loading area.

The plans presented to the Architectural Commission in March were a scaled-down version of a more elaborate proposal presented to the panel on February 23 by representatives of the owner of the building, 380 South County RoadLLC.

The LLC purchased the building in 2017 for $7.35 million.

The initial expansion proposal, which the architecture board deferred at its February meeting, included items such as a 2,300-square-foot cantilevered second-floor addition for office space — an extension which the Architectural Commission found incongruous with the building and its surroundings.

This addition would also have created a parking tunnel below and required additional gaps, including for a reduction in required parking spaces and exceeding the maximum roof height for mechanical equipment.

West Palm Beach-based Spina-O’Rourke Partners is the architectural firm representing 380 South County Road LLC and Le Bar in the expansion project.

The Wine Bar did not need City Council approval before its debut.

Because it’s in a zoned neighborhood where restaurants, bars, and nightclubs were, until recently, “permitted uses,” it only needed approval from city staff.

The Bar got that approval, but “permitted use” surprised residents, including city council members, who said they were unaware that businesses in certain areas of the city could open without review by the board.

In response, the council last May changed the use categories for restaurants, bars and nightclubs in five zoning districts.

Anne Desruisseaux

They include the area where Le Bar is located.

Although there may be exceptions, restaurants, bars and nightclubs in these areas are no longer permitted; these are now special exception uses, which require council approval.

Le Bar’s original city staff approval classifies the establishment as a 108-seat wine bar with a limited menu, zoning director Wayne Bergman said in an email.

The facility debuted with 58 places. He now has 108, Desruisseaux said.

Hours are currently 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday to Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday.

“I’m proud of what Le Bar has become,” Desruisseaux told the Daily News. “We haven’t advertised anywhere yet, so it’s all been word of mouth by everyone who has had a positive experience.”

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