Bottle Craft Set To Open In Former Drug Fair Building

Bottle Craft pre-opening2

Bottle Craft’s beer cooler will feature beers from around the country, with an emphasis on New Jersey craft beers.

After lying vacant for several years – save for the annual pop-up store for Halloween – at least half of the old Drug Fair building on Easton Avenue will soon have new life.

Or maybe a new “spirit,” is a better way to phrase it.

Two brothers from northern New Jersey – Drew and Ketan Patel – are putting the finishing touches on their venture, Bottle Craft Wines, Liquors and Beer. The roughly 9,000 square foot store represents the brothers’ first venture into retailing, a departure from their IT backgrounds.

The brothers expect to quietly open in the next week or so – to get the kinks out of the system, Drew Patel said – and plan a grand opening celebration for later in September.

In addition to what you would expect in a liquor store, Bottle Craft will have an emphasis on New Jersey wines and beers. There will be significant space in the store’s massive beer coolers for Garden State craft beers, Drew Patel said.

A focal point of the store will be at its entrance, where a tasting bar is being created. At any time, customers will be able to sample from a selection of eight wines, Drew Patel said.

The brothers hope to expand that to beer tasting, as well as educational programs such as wine tasting seminars, Patel said.

The brothers said they designed the store’s aesthetics from a woman’s perspective, which means wider aisles and shelves placed in a manner that does not require much bending to reach.

The beers and wines will be categorized by state and country, with the beers arranged by brewery rather than variety, Drew Patel said. That, he said, would make it less confusing for customers to find what they want.

“We didn’t want it to look or feel like a traditional liquor store,” he said.

Although the brothers’ background is in IT, they have always been exposed to the liquor retailing business through relatives. Patel said.

The township was chosen for their location, Patel said, because he is a Rutgers University graduate and was familiar with Franklin. A family member also owns a convenience store in town, he said.

The store’s inventory, Drew Patel said, is informed by “what is hot and what people can’t get.”

“We’re making it a destination for people,” he said.

The brothers plan to introduce online ordering for pickup and, eventually, limited delivery, Ketan Patel said.

Ketan Patel said technology will be used in the store, but not just for the “cool” factor.

“It’s about trying to be a pleasant experience,” he said.

“I think there’s a way to innovate the experience of buying alcohol, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” he said.

Ketan Patel said he and his brother want to “be a stage” for New Jersey products.

“We want to promote New Jersey beer, and New Jersey products in general,” he said. “To the extent that consumers want to find New Jersey products and we can feature them, we will.”

Ketan Patel said he and his brother hope to become “a staple in the community.”

“We’re in this for the long haul,” he said.

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