TALLAHASSEE — Lynne Edwards said growing up with an Italian grandmother, the kitchen was always a place of laughter, joy and delicious food. She and her husband, Bill, bring that same experience to those visiting 319 Wine & Cheese Shoppe.
Like in a family kitchen, customers can enjoy a great glass of wine, as they gather around the heart of the restaurant, a giant bar, behind which nearly all the orders are prepared and plated.
Located in Uptown Tallahassee at the Persimmon Hill Shopping Plaza on Thomasville Rd., the 319 Wine & Cheese Shoppe provides fresh, local food through partnerships with Sweetgrass Dairy, Winter Park Dairy, Orchard Pond Farms, Turkey Hill Farms and Hubbard Meats.
Tallahassee’s Proof Brewing Co. and Apalachicola’s Oyster City Brewing Company are two of the providers of cold, craft beer and Bill personally selects the wines which best complement the variety of cheese boards served at 319.
The idea for the bistro brewed in Lynne’s imagination for many years, before a dream finally prompted her to take action. For years, she had clipped recipes and décor ideas and put them in many giant notebooks. She had a vision of what she wanted to do and what she wanted it to look like. As the mother of four with a full-time job, she wrote in journals, “When?”
“What I meant,” she explained, “was when is it my time? When does this vision in my head become a reality?”
She said on the night of her 50th birthday, she had a dream. She said it was so vivid that as she dreamed it, she knew it was significant, “I kept telling myself, ‘Don’t open your eyes. This is important.’”
As she dreamed, she entered a room through beautiful oak doors. Inside was a desk with a tall, thin bearded man with white hair standing behind it. “At first I wasn’t sure if it was God or Santa,” she said with a laugh, “but he was so intense, I soon realized it wasn’t Santa.”
She said on his desk were all her journals.
“He picked one up and pounded on the desk saying, ‘Today is the day you move forward or you never write again,’” she said.
“So the next morning, I called Robert Parrish, a developer and friend, and told him what I wanted to do,” she said. He told her it could be done and he thought it could be very successful.
Together Lynne and Bill poured all their savings, their hearts, souls and creativity into the bistro. They built out the restaurant themselves, using reclaimed wood, railroad ties and wine crates to decorate with.
“We had no money in the bank, no experience. We just opened the door and said ‘what the heck, let’s see what happens,’” she recalled.
Now, two years later, the bistro is thriving. Customers love to linger and the Edward’s hate to rush them out the door.
They have worked way past closing time many a night.
Bill said they’ve had several couples who met at 319 for first dates. He said one particular couple was having a great time together and it was long after closing. Finally he offered them plastic cups and encouraged them to take everything to the porch tables and stay as long as they liked.
After he locked up, he drove around front. “It was really neat to see them out there sitting in the dark, enjoying each other’s company.”
Even with the long hours, the Edwards say being at the bistro doesn’t feel like a job.
“Yes, this is a business,” Lynne said, “but more than that, it’s a joy.”