A rare Black-owned wine bar is coming this summer to the city’s South Side, aiming to tap into a larger movement toward racial diversity in the disproportionately white-dominated wine industry. Park Manor 75, the first hospitality venture from spouses Charlette Stanton and Jacare Thomas, is scheduled to open in August at 600 E. 75th Street near the border of Grand Crossing and Chatham with charcuterie, cocktails, and wine list that emphasizes Black vintners.
Park Manor 75 will seat around 60 between two sections, and will offer a rotating seasonal list of four wines from Black producers like McBride Sisters, Love Cork Screw, and Chicago-based Black Feather Winery. They’ll also offer a menu of charcuterie boards and small dishes from chef Ronald Taylor. and cocktails with spirits from Black-owned distilleries. Taylor worked at Gate Gourmet (he helped develop in-flight menus for air travelers) and the Edgewater Madison. a hotel in Wisconsin’s capital.
Though they’re new to the world of bar ownership, Stanton and Thomas — who met as 13-year-old freshmen at Morgan Park High School and married in 2000 — know how to build community. In addition to their day jobs, the extroverted pair have founded multiple local groups over the past two decades, including Noir Urban Arts Collective and CeeBlaq Social Club. After spending years setting up events and coordinating trips for the groups, they say the shift to a physical gathering place feels like a natural one, as well as an opportunity to work side by side. “We’re coming back full circle now,” says Thomas. “The idea is to get to be together every day, bring in new people, and build relationships.”
Having a tidy four-wine list is intentional: Stanton and Thomas know that wine novices can feel overwhelmed when presented with dozens of possibilities, so they’re decided to phase in selections. They also plan to host tastings and educational events with featured wine makers.
“When you leave, the hope is that you are a little bit more knowledgeable about wine,” says Stanton. “We’d like to expose people who don’t have access or information and give them information about the different types of wines that are out there.”
African Americans make up only two percent of wine professionals, according to a 2018 survey by wine news site SevenFifty Daily — a finding that points to the larger problem of racial homogeny and exclusion associated with all corners of the industry, from winery associations to the prestigious and troubled Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas. It’s a statistic that troubles Park Manor 75’s owners, but one that also motivates them to serve a demographic often overlooked by wine brands in Chicago.
“We’re going to bring in the Black wine revolution that’s going on,” says Stanton. “Some people don’t see the value of bringing wine to the South Side with the assumption that people would rather drink hard liquor. They don’t know there’s a very big pool of individuals here that are interested in drinking wine.”
Silver Room owner Eric Williams and urban planner Cecilia Cuff, the leaders behind the hotly anticipated wine bar and restaurant Bronzeville Winery, seem to agree. Their new business is scheduled to open this month on Cottage Grove Avenue.
Though the opening is months away and there’s still plenty of red tape to cut through, the couple are eager to start pouring. “We’re ready to go!” says Thomas. “The contractors are there, everything is lined up. We’re really just waiting for a couple of licenses from the city and we can hit the ground running.”
Block Club Chicago first reported this opening.
Park Manor 75, 600 E. 75th Street, Scheduled to open in August.