Co-owners Lauren Kostek and Paula Paradise, best friends for over 20 years, had some definite ideas when they founded Paradise Wine (Paradisewinebuffalo.com) in Buffalo’s Five Points neighborhood on the West Side in March 2015.
Paradise, a food and wine expert (and former pastry chef) who worked at Premier for many years, and Kostek, a real estate broker and West Side advocate, wanted their shop to be accessible and affordable; to support farmers and makers who work sustainably, organically or biodynamically; and to be on the West Side. They are proud of being female-owned and operated. The spirit and wine world, Paradise noted, is traditionally and historically a male-dominated “old boys club.”
“Lauren and I really wanted the freedom of owning our own business—to be ourselves, execute our vision,” said Paradise. “We both come from blue-collar backgrounds and also feel that it’s important to support craft-oriented people who are making things by hand, growing on a small scale. We also wanted people to be able to walk here — that’s part of what makes a city lifestyle attractive.”
They have achieved their goals. After an extensive renovation of their building on Rhode Island Street, which Kostek managed, they opened to an eagerly awaiting and expanding clientele.
Paradise appreciates the challenge of identifying and stocking wines that fit the store’s mission — those that retail for around $10-15 and that are made by smaller wineries.
“It’s easier to find great, highly rated, expensive wines,” she said. “It’s more interesting to find wines of character under $20.”
In addressing customers’ requests for suggestions, she first finds out what they already like. “We take it from there — we can point out something that’s similar, and maybe introduce them to something a little different or new,” she said.
The two also cater to the community. The shop offers monthly classes, tastings on Friday evenings, and has partnered with local bars and restaurants — including The Black Sheep and Casa Azul — to present events like pairing dinners.
Customers often ask her for pairing advice; her combined wine and food knowledge and easy manner make her ideal for the job. “I love food and wine pairings,” said Paradise. “It’s another creative, imaginative layer of flavor with your food. You can think about food and wine flavors similarly.”
Five Points Bakery, another sustainably focused business, is right around the corner from Paradise Wine. It’s the perfect opportunity to stock up on the proverbial ingredients recommended by the poets: a jug of wine and a loaf of bread.