Step inside the Pescadero Country Store, look left, and you may be surprised at what you see. Gone are the wall of produce bins and the shelves of dry goods. In its place are sleek silver and wood panels leading to the entrance of The Mermaid Lounge, a wine bar that store owner Cindy Simms says will officially open by June 1.
"Beer and wine goes well with pizza and we needed a place to pour from," said Simms, who has owned the store since 2003. Since Simms took over the store, she has added a kitchen, pizza gallery, and indoor and outdoor eating areas.
"I wanted it to be a place where families could enjoy eating on the outside lawn, as well as a place that would be affordable for families," she said of the additions. "I also needed to make money," she added, beyond what grocery store sales could generate alone.
The idea for a wine bar was hatched a little over a year ago, when Simms applied for a beer and wine license. But the push that brought Pescadero's second existing alcohol-serving establishment into reality (in addition to Duarte's Tavern) took place in the last two months. Simms and Half Moon Bay and Los Angeles-based designer Brian Randall collaborated to transform the 350-square foot corner of the store into The Mermaid Lounge.
"It's an ocean surf style that reflects the Pescadero coast," said Randall.
The wine bar's silver and blue color scheme evokes an ethereal under-the-sea atmosphere, and has been grounded with a recycled redwood-paneled wall, bar, and row of shutters lining the front windows.
"The wood is all recycled from redwood water storage tanks here on the Coastside," Simms said, noting that the material was collected from tanks her husband Steve, a plumber, has taken down throughout the years.
"The tanks were located in the hillside farms surrounding this area," Randall said. "Notice that there's no knots," he said, pointing to the paneled wall that he left rustic and unfinished on the outside entrance wall, and polished smooth on the interior side that faced the inside of the lounge. "It's old-growth redwood," he said.
The chairs and tables are also recycled as well, made out of stripped and refinished walnut from 1940s banquet chairs Randall found in an old rusting container behind the Pescadero Country Store.
"There were 50 stacking chairs," he said. "We combined wood from two of them to make a side chair and wood from three of them to make a throne chair," he said, referring to the chairs with an extra curving back panel that provide room for a person to comfortably rest his or her arms on from either side.
The rest of the interior was gleaned from recycled materials as well. Randall obtained the glass in the chandeliers from old high school gymnasium lights ("somewhere on the Peninsula," he said) that he found from a salvage dealer, the bar stools from a hotel surplus store, and the paintings from local garage sales. He found the overhead lamp fixtures hanging in line along the front window from a hotel liquidation sale in Denver.
The Mermaid Lounge's beverage director, Moss Beach resident Eric Richter, says that the bar will focus on local wine. "The idea is to have something for every palate and every price point," he said. "For example, we'll have nice Cabernets between $6 to $13 a glass, and Pinot Noirs from $5 to $14."
“We’ll feature local, fun and unique lines,” he said, pointing to Big Guy, a wine from Bell Wine Cellars in the Napa Valley with a curly-haired dog on the label. “This is the winemaker’s dog,” he said. La Honda wine will also be featured, Richter said.
Richter said he's tasted 100 wines over the past two weeks to narrow down the lounge’s selection. "We'll feature about 15 to 18 unique pours representing a range of California wines and also have international white wine flights,” he said, tastings of wine produced in areas as diverse as Austria, South Africa and Italy.
Local craft beer will also be available, he said, citing People’s Porter from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing as a “tentative” choice for now.
Though the store still sells grocery items, that space has been condensed to make room for the lounge. Six months ago, Randall redesigned that area to feature local wines for purchase at the end caps of each aisle - some which will be featured in The Mermaid Lounge.
As in the lounge, Randall used salvaged and recycled materials to give the grocery section of a store a refreshed look while paying homage to its rural surroundings. Part of an old plow serves as tiered shelves for bags of potato chips, and an air vent from a farm grainery stands above the store's coffee station for cream and sugar. He also brought in recycled display cabinets to showcase local products for sale, such as Snyders Honey made in La Honda.
Last Saturday evening, Simms hosted a private gathering at the lounge to officially unveil The Mermaid Lounge for family and friends. “We’ll try out the bar, and order some food from the kitchen,” she said that afternoon. “They’re all very excited,” she said of the opening, noting that she may open the lounge before June 1.
“It’s a beautiful place and we have some beautiful wines to match,” Richter said.
The Pescadero Country Store is located at 251 Stage Road, Pescadero, CA 94060 and can be contacted at 650-879-0410.