EatDrinkJax.com takes a moment with Chad and Ian of Ovinte.
30. What are some of the challenges of being a sommelier?
Chad: Sometimes it seems like everyone's a critic and you can't always please everyone. As we say in the industry, a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing. You'll get someone who's read a few things and knows a little about wine and they can be the harshest critics, wanting to know why we don't have this or that on our wine list. I have to just bite my tongue and acknowledge that there are thousands and thousands and thousands of wines out there and it's not possible to have everything.
31. Are people, in general, becoming more knowledgeable about wine?
Chad: Absolutely! I've been in wine and restaurants in this town for 16-17 years and it's amazing what changes I've seen. People are becoming very savvy, and they know what they want. It's much less intimidating for many people. There's still people who are learning but the overall level of wine education is rising all the time.
32. What types of changes are you referring to?
Chad: Just in the level of sophistication and knowledge about wine that people have now.
33. What attracted you to Ovinté?
Chad: It's a concept that I've had brewing in the back of my head for years. When I sold my last business and moved to California I didn't even know that I'd ever be back in the restaurant business, but I said that if I ever do get back into restaurants I had this really cool concept that I'd want to try. I always knew that it would take an area with a lot of foot traffic. I never thought of the Town Center originally. Being able to realize my vision is what attracted me to Ovinté.
34. What did you do before Ovinté?
Chad: Directly before I owned a small wine wholesale distribution company based here in Jacksonville. Prior to that I lived in Santa Barbara and was the Director of Education in retail operations for the Foley group of wines. Bill Foley is the Chairman of Fidelity National Financial here in Jacksonville, which is how I met him through a previous business - I used to own The Grotto in San Marco. When Bill first moved to town we became friends, which is how the deal for California started. When I began with Bill he had 3 wineries. By the time I left he had 14.
35. Is there an educational aspect to Ovinté?
Chad: We've talked about it. We're new and so we're still getting a sense of who our audience is and what they want. We may do something in the future. We definitely want to hold some nice wine events. I'd like to parallel some of the events that are done in wine country and do them here. But that's in the future.
36. Have there been any big surprises launching Ovinté?
Chad: There haven't been any major surprises. My background has all been in Avondale and San Marco, so for me, learning the consumer market and trends in this area of town has probably been the biggest learning curve for me.
37. What are the main differences between the market in Avondale and San Marco and the St. Johns Town Center?
Chad: At the Town Center you get a much wider array of clientele. It attracts people from all corners of the city. Finding out the best way to introduce what we're doing to everyone is what I'm focused on.
38. What's next for Ovinté?
Chad: We'll continue to grow and do things here at Ovinté. We always need to keep working to get the word out. I think Jacksonville is the biggest small town around. Because Ovinté is so unique in what we do I will need to spend a lot of time on marketing and PR so that people can understand what we do and come by to try us out. Otherwise, we're already looking at the next project. My partners and I are working on a building downtown that we want to renovate into a cool restaurant. I'm working on the conceptual side of that now. We're probably a year and a half away but we're getting there slowly but surely.
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About the writer
EatDrinkJax.com interviews are conducted by Jacksonville Beach resident Gerry Glynn. When Gerry isn't talking with restauranteurs he is working for a local software company, training for his next road race, and hanging out with his wife and dog.