We lobbed a few questions at Amy Ruis, owner of Art of the Table and Aperitivo. She schooled us on what her business is all about along with discussing Art of the Table's 10th anniversary.
You recently opened Aperitivo, a cheese, wine and charcuterie shop in the Downtown Market. What's business been like so far?
Business has been really good, it's been really busy around here. Now we're in the January drop off. It's quiet.
When did you officially open?
What does 'Aperitivo' mean?
Aperitivo actually means, "to open," [and we want to] open one's palette, open one's mind, to open to new people. ... Here, you have a way to open your evening and then hang out downtown. You could go to HopCat next or go to Bar Divani.
Art of the Table is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Are you doing anything special?
We did a whole week-long series with fun things every day. We also have an event coming up on Feb. 7, and that is our 10th anniversary party. We'd like to celebrate it in the fall, but people are so busy in the fall. ... People, I think, get burnt out on parties. People are more bored in February and are looking for things to do.
Tell me more about the event.
It's open to everybody. It's $70 and you get all the food and drink you want. It's an all-inclusive evening.
Just after people make their New Year's resolutions!
Yeah. Here's a little bit more for you. By January, they're like, "I shouldn't indulge, I should watch my money, I should watch my waistline." But they're also thinking, "What do I want to do next for fun?" And that's why we decided on Feb. 7.
Valentine's Day is coming up. What do you recommend for a good date night?
For [Aperitivo], I think what's really fun here is this bar is really cozy and warm. ... You can start your date here and you can go out to dinner.
For people who are unfamiliar with cheese and charcuterie, do you have a menu item that is a good starter?
We can do the monger's choice, which is our most popular item. Kate, the co-owner puts them together, but you can also choose what you want. ... It's a good starter, especially if you don't know much about cheese.
And there are classes for additional education, right?
[At Apertivo], we have a venue where we can try things, so we're doing more classes. ... We do wine tastings and oyster tastings with the guys at Fish Lads and things like that where people can learn in a non-threatening environment.
What do the two businesses share?
We both carry a lot of retail goods.
So, similar to a Venn diagram, where there are differences but overlapping similarities?
Right. One will carry beer and wine, the other cheese and meats and gourmet foods. We try to do different things, but in the same vein.
Tell me about Art of the Table's beginnings?
I took a big stab in the dark. I kept saying I wanted a store because I love retail in general. As a kid I worked at a bookstore, then a kitchen store. I became a teacher and it wasn't for me, so I turned to retail and I loved it. ... I love to entertain and I love to try new stuff: new wine and new beer, and I love to have people over.
I can see the connection between your previous job as a teacher and what you do now. There's an education element to both of them.
Yeah, exactly. I'm still a teacher, but now I teach about cheese. [Laughs]
Interview conducted, condensed and edited by Lindsay Patton-Carson.