Earlier this week, Portland Business Journal reported that Mars Wine Bar & Kitchen will be one of the first tenants in the new Lyon Court building in the Alameda neighborhood. We did a little sleuthing and caught up with Mars' owner, Mikey Lynch.
Lynch told us that Mars Wine Bar & Kitchen will serve a worldly selection of beverages, many discovered by Lynch while traveling to such places as Kazakhstan and the Middle East as an urban planner. A small menu will also offer drinking foods. Here's what else he shared:
As advertised in its name, Mars will carry wine—lots of it.
When he opens the doors this winter, Lynch thinks he'll be offering just over 50-wines—13 of which will be high-end pours courtesy of his 13-draft Cruvinet system—with plans to double those offerings to reflect the "community and its tastes."
Just don't expect that list to be Oregon-heavy.
Lynch says he doesn't want to sell you something you can easily find at your own neighborhood market. There will be some Oregon wines, but they'll be fusion blends or wines from smaller, underrepresented vineyards.
The idea, he says, is to create a sort of community center, with an emphasis on education. "I want folks to go from enjoying wine to understanding it," he says, because that was how wine education came to him. He didn't understand what he was tasting until he did. And when you know why you're enjoying something, you end up enjoying it more.
There will also be beer.
So far, Lynch plans to have three taps with local craft drafts and several bottled brews to round out the menu.
Lynch says wine enthusiasts shouldn't expect anything too fancy. He won't be offering pasta dishes or gastroburgers. Instead, he says, think foods that pair well with wines. In other words, "meats, cheeses, breads, and spreads."
When working abroad, Lynch saw that wine bars that also served a curated list of whiskeys were sprouting up in high-rolling capital cities around the world. That's why Lynch will carry a dozen or so bottles of the brown stuff.
Lynch grew up a Texas boy, so how did he end up in Kazakhstan? Well, he was an urban planner. In fact, he was a bicycle and pedestrian planner for Multnomah County (should the bike community immediately crown Mars its go-to spot?). Then, the government of Abu Dhabi poached him to do its planning for the next seven years, and Lynch says that his travels through the Middle East and Central Asia truly taught him to understand the world of wine—and the whiskey that goes with that.
His plan all along was to return to Portland, which he did earlier this year. In fact, his move was mainly to start Mars Wine Bar & Kitchen.
If all falls into place, Lynch says Mars will be pouring its first drinks sometime in December.
Mars Wine Bar & Kitchen: 2333 NE Fremont St.; Probably future hours: Noon to midnight every day except Thursday