Wine bar plan for popular shopping mall

A popular gin and wine store could soon be set to expand after submitting plans for its second site - an upmarket bar in a busy Wigan township.

Thursday, 26th October 2017, 10:16 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 11:33 am
Portland Wine Bar owner Lyndsey Porter with MP Conor McGinn

The couple behind Portland Wine Warehouse, in Billinge, have submitted applications to Wigan Council to branch out their business by opening an over 25s bar at The Winstanley Centre on Holmes House Avenue.

Lyndsay Porter, 38, who runs the bustling wine shop on Rainford Road with her partner Hobby Alam, 41, is hoping that public support will convince the town hall to approve a licence application and plans to change the use of the building, which is currently an empty retail unit.

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The family-run wine store received a huge blow back in August when St Helens Council refused a certificate of lawfulness for the ancillary wine-tasting machines, which allow customers to sample a wine before they purchased the bottle.

However Lyndsay has high hopes for the recent submissions, saying that Wigan Council is more “forward-thinking” when it comes to new establishments.

The shop has already gained support from MP for St Helens North Conor McGinn, who visited last week. “I have been looking at doing this for a while,” said the Rainford High School teacher. “It compliments the shop so nicely. When this space came up in Winstanley I thought ‘perfect, let’s go and have a look’.

“The response has been crazy. People have come over to the shop from Winstanley. I thought it was going to see objections. We wanted to be able to say ‘this is what we are doing, it’s not going to be your standard pub or bar’.

“Lots of people have come with lots of positive comments. It seems like they really want it.

“We will have the same wine machines as in the shop and there will be gin and rum. Everything you can drink in the bar will be available to purchase from the shop. There will be a small selection of international bottled beers, premium gins and rum.

“It will be a place to go to with really fine wines, a place to go and enjoy a product, not just go and get drunk. People will be able to have a look and experience our products that we sell in the shop without any restrictions.”

“We take our business really seriously,” she added. “We are very responsible and we would be the same there, it’s our reputation on the line. We want older people to be able to walk around and find something a bit different. There’s a lot of places for 18-year-olds. I don’t want to be going to places like that I want to have a drink with the girls or a bottle of wine.”

Lindsay believes that the application is likely to go to committee, but that the positive feedback from the community will go in their favour.

A message left for social media users on the shop’s Facebook says: “We have not and never will serve alcohol to those underage and work hard to ensure both inside and out is a safe place for all by challenging any groups congregating outside. It will be no ordinary ‘bar’ as I’m sure you will agree our shop is no ordinary off-licence. An establishment such as ours attracts mostly over 25’s and we can’t wait to offer something new to the area.”