One of San Luis Obispo’s first gasoline stops has found new life as a different sort of filling station.
Where cars once pulled in for repairs, customers at The Station get fixed up with one of a dozen wines available by the glass. Where they paid for petrol, they now purchase bottles of Beaujolais, Champagne or Slovenian sauvignon blanc.
And where they once filled up on fuel, they now fill up on fare from the Station Wagon, a mint-green former mail truck where Good Tides Organic Bistro serves up inventive dishes such as glazed pork belly sandwiches, vegan sweet corn dahl and marrow toast with fried egg and tomato four nights a week.
“It’s great to see it up and running again,” The Station manager Jenna Congdon said of the formerly shuttered spot.
Despite a history dating to 1920, the combined event space/wine bar at 311 Higuera St, just south of downtown, appeals to those looking for something new.
Rather than feature the area’s wine producers, Congdon and owner Kimberly Walker, a co-owner of Granada Hotel & Bistro in San Luis Obispo, decided to spotlight small-production international wines — along with a few local wines not easy to find elsewhere.
“Around here, we get very comfortable with the local selection. This is an opportunity to try something new and different,” said Congdon, who found a passion for international wines while working for an importer eight years ago. “They offer great value, considering the quality-to-price ratio, especially since small production here is usually high priced.”
Most of the 60 or so rotating wines run between $15 and $30, although the shop carries a few higher-priced “special occasion” wines. Most are biodynamically or organically grown and hail from the cooler climates of France, Germany, Italy and Austria, as well as more exotic locations including Croatia and the Canary Islands.
“We have some ‘left field’ wines for the customers looking for something new, but we have a lot of wines that are easy bridges,” Congdon said, such as a familiar varietal from an unfamiliar region or an obscure grape from a well-known region.
The Station also offers flights so customers can try something new without buying a whole bottle.
“Our hope is that people get to know wines out of their comfort zone,” Congdon said. “So maybe they’ll go to a restaurant and see that region or grape and take a chance.”
Despite unfamiliar varietals or unpronounceable place names, the shop, which opened in July 2015, aims to be anything but pretentious or intimidating.
“We think of ourselves as a neighborhood spot,” Congdon said, “a little off the beaten path, a place for the community.”
To that end, the Station offers a stylish, airy space — wooden communal tables, a long industrial bar, a comfy lounge corner, polished concrete floors, modern greenery and bright roll-up garage doors with a back patio in the works—for small events as well as a host of classes and activities ranging from the serious to the seriously fun.
“There aren’t a lot of options for small events outside restaurant and hotel banquet rooms,” Congdon said. “We have a lot of baby and bridal showers, private screenings. It’s a place for people who want to get creative.”
For low-pressure creativity, drop in on one of the many adult coloring nights or art and craft sessions. Or taste and learn something new from local winemaker pop-ups, the wine aficionado-aimed somm series and introductions to various regions or varietals.
You can take some culinary creativity home in the form of artisan ingredients like Jacobsen Salt Co. salts and Inna Jam jams, cocktail shrubs and bitters, as well as bespoke bar accessories and recipe books.
While at The Station, try a “vermule,” a modified Moscow Mule made with vermouth and ginger beer from San Luis Obispo-based Root Elixirs, or craft your own cava cocktail during Sparkling Sundays. Or just order a glass of wine.
“Sometimes we’re just a wine bar,” Congdon said. “A place to come in, relax and have a drink.”
311 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo, just south of downtown
805-706-0711 or thestationslo.com
Hours: 1 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 1 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday
The scene: A stylishly renovated old filling station serves as a curated wine and goods shop, wine bar and event space with classes and activities. Find new arrivals and inspiration on Instagram at @thestationslo.
The offerings: Around 60 mostly international wines for sale, plus gourmet goods; a dozen wines are available by the glass daily, with four on tap. The Station Wagon serves up dishes by Good Tides Organic Bistro on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 5 p.m. to close.
Expect to spend: $15 to $45 bottles, $8 to $13 by the glass, $8 to $12 food, $35 to $50 classes and activities.