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Liquor Store Nearly Triples In Size, Adds Two Other Venues

It’s been little more than a year since Jason Vogel opened his liquor store, Underground Leaf & Vine, in the historic Itasca building at 706 North 1st Street.

Now, not only is that shop more than two-and-a-half times larger, Vogel has also opened a new event center and recording studio in the back of the building. All of them will soon have the Itasca name: Itasca Wine + Spirits, Itasca Event Gallery and Itasca Studio.

“Being an outsider coming from California, I didn’t know what to expect but the neighborhood has been absolutely amazing,” he said. “They’ve been super supportive, really behind local business, supporting me and what we’re trying to do.”

To create the much larger wine & spirits shop, he not only took over a second storefront across the hall, he also took over the hallway. Gone are the glass walls that used to separate the two storefronts.

“We went from about a thousand square feet to about 2,700,” Vogel said. “We’ve doubled our whiskey, doubled our tequila, vodka, all our spirits. And we’re gonna more than double beer. We’re probably gonna get to about 1300 SKUs for wine.”

And instead of trying to squeeze tasting events around a small checkout area, he now has a large tasting bar that will host wine tastings on Fridays as well as either beer or spirits on Thursdays.

“Every wine shop typically does a Friday night wine tasting, so we thought it would be nice to do something different and let people taste some of the local spirits,” Vogel said. “There are so many good local distilleries here and great breweries.”

As for the event space, it can fit up to 100 people, or more like 50-60 for a seated event.

Vogel believes he has a pricing advantage over other event spaces in that he charges a flat hourly rate and doesn’t require the parties to order food or drink from him.

Itasca Studio, meanwhile, is set up with high-end equipment for podcasts or other video/audio productions.

Vogel is in the process of setting up a new website that will host information for all three businesses, and intends to have a grand opening celebration for the neighborhood in the coming weeks.

“It’s been amazing. I’m super happy,” he said. “Couldn’t have picked a better place to live.”

By Mike Binkley, North Loop volunteer

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