It’s official. Husband and wife team Patrick Watson and Michele Pravda, owners of beloved Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill shops Smith & Vine and Stinky Brooklyn, have branched out to Manhattan: “After ten years of solid business in Brooklyn, I think we’re ready for this project,” says Watson.
The couple landed the lease to a former Men’s Wearhouse, a 3,000 square foot space they were able to split into two areas to create Back Label Wine Merchants (111 West 20th Street) and Stinky Bklyn (107 West 20th Street). “You know you’ve arrived when you take over a former Men’s Wearhouse space,” laughs Watson, citing his desire to make his shops’ motto “You’re going to like the way this tastes.” (Pravda quickly put her foot down on the idea.)
At Back Label, a mural over the cash register pays homage to all the components we think about when purchasing wine like color, aroma, and producer. Movable iron shelves with labels like Loire Valley, Geology, and Points East line the walls of Back Label, giving the airy space a warm library vibe. A $20-and-under table anchors the center of the room, offering up nearly 70 bottlings and reminding shoppers that wine is accessible for all.
“We’ve always tried to rethink or reinvent the way people shop for wine,” says Watson. “At the end of the day, it’s just about enjoyability.” And to enhance the experience, the duo will bring in a ragtime jazz band on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons, which will play during wine tastings. And in a few weeks, Back Label will begin hosting classes and tastings help Chelsea shoppers expand their knowledge.
Next door at Stinky Bklyn, local products, meats, and cheeses are the focus, and Brooklyn favorites like Dough doughnuts and Brooklyn Bell Ice Cream (Watson says the black lava caramel flavor is “insane”) are offered alongside a range of ten draft beers available in growlers plus separate lines dedicated to Brooklyn Soda Works and Kombucha Brooklyn.
Although the menu isn’t quite finalized, Stinky Bklyn will sell gourmet sandwiches based on the once-secret sandwich menu of the Cobble Hill Stinky location. Expect offerings like smashed chickpeas, Mahon cheese, artichoke pesto, and arugula on ciabatta, and salami, Fontina, butter, pickled veggies, and arugula on a pretzel roll.
Back Label Wine Merchants is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Stinky Bklyn is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.