Next weekend, Work in Harmony Cafe will begin offering bottles from Glassboro-based Summit City Winery along with its coffee and conference space.
By Matt Skoufalos
Last May, a handful of eateries in dining-centric-but-dry-by-ordinance Collingswood formed partnerships with New Jersey wineries to retail their homegrown products along the BYOB Restaurant Row.
After the closure of Local Market in November, however, none had been able to offer downtown shoppers the opportunity of a take-and-go location for Jersey wines.
Summit City’s wine business is one of a handful of diverse interests on a 500-acre, generational farm that grows apples, nectarines, and peaches, and which also features an equestrian facility and an expansive commercial food operation, said president Lewis DeEugenio.
In addition to manufacturing wines with imported wine grapes, DeEugenio said Summit City winemakers consider themselves “fruit wine specialists,” crafting 17 different versions of Jersey fruit wines with local produce.
“We’ve had extremely good beginner’s luck with our wines,” he said. “We’ve yet to have complaints.”
‘A good, synergistic relationship’
DeEugenio said the partnership with Work in Harmony, the first retail location for his winery, will be its “outlet beta site.”
He believes it affords the two, growing businesses the opportunity of “a good, synergistic relationship.
“I was approached by [Work in Harmony owners] Michelle and Don [Polidoro] at a time when I wasn’t thinking about it, but they seemed like such a genuine, organized, and thoughtful couple,” he said.
“I’m excited about it because I think the [Collingswod] populace and the exposure for that area could be the right fit for the products that we have.”
Both businesses are young and ripe for collaboration, Michelle Polidoro said, adding that she preferred to work with Summit City as opposed to a more established winery because “we want the same thing.
“I wanted someone who was very hungry to grow their business, as we are, and to have that partnership, so it’s solid” she said.
Another advantage to partnering with Summit City is its Gloucester County location, Polidoro said. The Franklinville resident, who operates Work in Harmony with her daughter, Barrington resident Jennifer Baker, said the farm is convenient to her Collingswood commute.
“If I needed to stop and pick wine up on the way up to the shop, I could,” Polidoro said. “It’s local.”
To start, Work in Harmony will retail eight varieties of Summit City wines: its Boulevard sweet red and white table wines, an American syrah and a cabernet sauvignon, a chardonnay, a pinot grigio, and peach and apple fruit wines.
State law allows diners to buy wine by the bottle or glass at a Jersey winery retail outlet, but they must consume it onsite, and retailers are not permitted to mark up the price.
‘I’m really hoping it brings more awareness’
At Work in Harmony, however, wine will be sold by the bottle only, Polidoro said, with customers permitted to drink it in the storefront or at one of its two al fresco café tables.
They may also purchase the wine and take it to dinner, which Polidoro hopes will help increase foot traffic at her business.
“I’m really hoping it brings in more awareness that we’re there,” she said.
“We’ll be the first place in Collingswood where you can pick up a bottle of wine and take it to dinner.”
Even if the take-and-go business doesn’t take off, Work in Harmony will become the first hourly coworking space to feature bottle service as a companion to its coffee bar café.
From breakfast sandwiches and bakery items in the morning to cheese trays and hummus platters at lunch, its combination office-lounge aesthetic ranges from high-top tables and deep-seated, leather couches to cubicle workstations and a state-of-the-art conference room.
Cubicles rent for $5 an hour or $25 for the day; 12-day memberships are available for $150, or $225 monthly, which includes access to the onsite printer, secure WiFi, and conference room access.
Polidoro also said that private groups rent the lounge for $30 per hour or the whole building for $75 an hour.
Most, however, are just looking for a quiet place to work, she said.
“Most people come in during the day and rent the cubicle spaces or the conference room,” she said.
“We’ve had several people who’ve come in from out of town, who found our space from word of mouth.”
If nothing else, Polidoro said, she hopes the outlet partnership will offer Work in Harmony another revenue stream in its push toward sustainability.
“I’m hoping [wine]will bring people in from throughout the business day who want to have a seat and relax,” she said.
Work in Harmony is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, until 6 p.m. Thursday, and until 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Polidoro said the shop will host a grand re-opening August 8, to coincide with Collingswood Second Saturday. She plans to offer samples of coffee in the morning, smoothies at lunch, and a wine tasting in the evening.