RYE, N.Y. – Doug Kooluris looked long and hard for the perfect opportunity to open his new wine and spirits shop. He believes he found the right spot at 498 Forest Ave. in Rye.
Kooluris opened G. Griffin Wine & Spirits earlier in October and will have a grand opening Friday. After working in the food and beverage industry at hotels and restaurants for nearly 20 years, Kooluris decided to take his experience and begin his own business.
“It was a frustrating journey to find a shop in Westchester,’’ Kooluris said. “It was easier to buy an existing location, but most aren’t for sale because they’re doing well. I was fortunate to find this location.”
The store Kooluris is leasing became available when the former owner retired in January. Kooluris signed the lease agreement in June. He has spent four months making extensive, and expensive, renovations.
“People will walk in the door and there will be no doubt it’s a brand new store with brand new products and brand new people,’’ Kooluris said. “It’s a clean slate.”
He also promises customers that service in his shop will be unparalleled. “I find that a lot of times, people are settling for service,’’ Kooluris said. “'No' is not in my vocabulary. If someone walks in and has a request, my objective is to make that person happy. I’m always thinking, ‘How can I solve that problem?’ I don’t think any request is ridiculous or out of the question.”
Before deciding a few years ago to enter the wine and spirits business, Kooluris thought he’d own his own restaurant.
“I loved food and beverage, but there are a lot of moving parts in a restaurant,’’ he said. “I was drawn to this for two reasons. I wanted to get out of it what I’m putting into it with a little sweat equity. And down the road, I’d like to reduce my hours. A wine shop has a lot fewer moving parts. It’s so hard to step away when you’re in the restaurant business. In this business, if I don’t sell it today, it gets even better tomorrow.”
Kooluris said the shop will have a broad range of price points and inventory. While he his knowledgeable about his primary business, he is learning that there a lot of hats to be worn as a small business proprietor.
“The greatest adjustment I’m facing is I’m everyone,’’ Kooluris said. “I’m the accounting department, human resources, engineering. In the restaurant, if something broke, I called engineering. Now I’m everybody. It’s a little daunting, but at the same time, I’m the master of my domain. If something goes wrong, it’s my fault. It’s scary, but it’s also exciting. I think we’re going to do well here.”