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Wilmington liquor store owners plan to open a wine bar. What we know

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A new wine bar next to FranksWine shop in Wilmington is planned to open this fall on the site of a former comedy club.

Business/building owners Frank and Colleen Pagliaro say they hope to open Anura Wine Bar in October after renovating the interior and exterior of the space at 1206 N. Union St., near the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue. It had last been the home of the House of Laffs comedy lounge

The comedy club closed in November 2022 when the owner was evicted from the Wilmington building for failing to pay $270,000 in back rent and other fees such as legal, utilities, water and sewage, real estate tax and insurance.

Frank Pagliaro has owned the building that also houses his wine/liquor store for 37 years. It was known as Wilmington’s longest-running nightclub spot and was once the home of The Alley.

Pagliaro has leased out the 6,500-square-foot space to 12 tenants over the years — the best-known nightclub was probably the former Porky’s Dance Club in the 1990s — and he said he no longer is interested in offering long-term leases.

Pagliaro said he and Colleen, a pediatric pharmacist who has worked in restaurants and as a bartender, gained the confidence to open a wine bar after the success of outdoor cafe events they hosted that included live music and food trucks in the parking lot of FranksWine shop during the pandemic.

The Anura name is a nod to the frog logo at FranksWine, known as Jeremiah. Anura refers to any of an order of amphibians comprising frogs, toads, and tree frogs.

The wine bar has a license to serve alcohol, and the Pagliaros plan to serve food. Since June 2023, the kitchen of the space has been used as a commissary by Chef Robbie Jester for his thriving catering business. Jester is known for winning competitions on the Food Network and the Netflix series Pressure Cooker.

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The building was originally a bowling alley that opened in 1941. The space is getting a complete interior and exterior overhaul that includes remodeled restrooms, more space for kitchen preparation, a patio that’s compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and a new bar that will offer a Cruvinet wine system similar to a beer tap.

“We’re going to pull out everything and do it the right way,” Pagliaro said, adding, “No nightclub.”

He said the space could be opened before and after theater events in nearby downtown Wilmington and used for parties, wine tastings and pop-up events.

“There’s no way to just do a wine bar and sustain it. We’re going to have to have other events here,” Pagliaro said.

Upcoming events that the Pagliaro say will give people a glimpse at what’s coming this fall include a five-course May 17 wine dinner with food prepared by Jester and beverages from California Winery Owner & Winemaker Gus Kalaris of Axios Napa Valley Winery. The cost is $125 per person and includes gratuity. Visit frankswine.com

If you want to read more stories from Patricia Talorico, click here. You can find her on Instagram, and Facebook. E-mail [email protected] or leave a message at 302-324-2861. Sign up for her Delaware Eats Newsletter.