The Living Room Coffeehouse and Winebar has had a focus on local goods and services since their opening nearly four years ago in downtown Pilot Mountain. Of the “buy local” movement, owner Scott Needham said, “It helps our local economy, and hopefully that comes back to us.” As a winebar, the business carries only North Carolina wines.
The eclectic cafe was the vision of Needham, who has brought together a few of his favorite things in a single business location. “I just put together all the stuff that I like,” he said, explaining he felt other people would share his interests.
Wine is definitely on the list of things he likes to share. Explaining how North Carolina wineries hold a special meaning for him, Needham recalled taking his wife, Erin, to a winery on their first date.
“Unfortunately this area has a reputation for just making sweet wines, like muscadine,” said Needham, noting people have told him they don’t like North Carolina wines for that reason. He hopes by showcasing the variety of North Carolina wines available, he can change that misperception. North Carolina actually produces a wide variety of wines, Needham’s favorites being dry reds and oaky whites.
Noting that most of the wine produced in North Carolina is made with locally grown grapes, Needham said, “The agri-tourism business has really picked up in this area.”
The Living Room aims to provide a market for the many vineyards, such as Round Peak, Herrera and Stony Knoll, that see the product from start to finish. Selections from about 30 different wineries have been served at The Living Room through the years.
Wanting to promote local business and highlight the various wines he enjoys, Needham and his wife began touring wineries throughout the state. “We’ve visited over 40 so far,” he said, noting they also have been to a few in other states.
Visiting the wineries improves Needham’s ability to connect with both his vendors and customers. “You remember your experience of the place, and that influences your perception of the wine,” said Needham, adding The Living Room provides a convenient way to revisit the memory of multiple wineries without the commute.
On occasion, representatives from various wineries set up a tasting at The Living Room. “We’ve also done educational events, bringing the winemakers here to do talks,” said Needham, noting the value of having the viticulture program at Surry Community College so close.
The Living Room’s staff of five includes a certified sommelier, a wine expert who can assist customers with wine selection and pairings. Wine cocktails with fresh fruit are served at special events and by request.
The chef on staff, Niki Farrington, creates original recipes featuring local wines. “Our cream of mushroom soup containing a dry red wine is a customer favorite,” said Farrington.
“I opened this business because I felt like it was something the community needed. And when I make my business decisions I come back to that, trying to support my community like they support me,” said Needham. That attitude is apparent to the community, which voted The Living Room the Most Community Involved Business in the 2015 Mountie Awards.
“We try to participate in the community as much as possible,” said Needham. Several community groups, such as a book club, stitchers group and paranormal group, call The Living Room home with regular meetings in the space. The venue also supports local artists, displaying original works for sale and hosting live music weekly.
In addition, The Living Room partners with The Art of Massage, which occupies the back portion of the building. The goal, according to Needham, is “to provide healthy alternatives to food, exercise, and lifestyle.”
Every week they host Half-price Wine Wednesday, selling wine by the glass or the bottle. “On those days we have people come in to buy a case of wine,” said Needham.
The Living Room will be celebrating its fourth anniversary on July 5 with a variety of specials. Several events will commemorate the wine harvest beginning in August.
Located at 215 E. Main St., Pilot Mountain, The Living Room is open Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, visit thelivingroompm.com or check out its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/thelivingroompm.
Diane Blakemore may be reached on twitter @PilotReporter.