The wait is over for fans of The Wine Tap in downtown Belleville.
Dan Fogarty-Hayden and his wife, Robbie, have purchased the popular bar and restaurant at 223 E. Main St. and after a month of renovations, the couple reopened the business Tuesday. The Wine Tap was established in 2008 and has been part of the growing downtown Belleville restaurant scene since then.
The couple decided to keep The Wine Tap as the name of their new venture and they will keep the wood-fired, brick oven for their pizzas.
But they have added their own tastes to the menu, which features 12-inch pizzas plunged into the brick oven for a short time because the oven’s temperature ranges from 700 to 900 degrees. There are eight designed pizzas or you can create your set of own toppings.
The menu has small plates like jalapeño poppers, bacon wrapped dates and a sizzling brie dip. It also has three salads and homemade soups developed by Robbie.
“These are my recipes for the most part and most of them are his personal favorites,” Robbie said of her husband. “We kind of just went with things that we know and love and make in our own home.”
The couple said they developed the menu in consultation with Dan’s friend, Ryan Stupka, who is a chef in St. Louis.
“We are making fresh, house-made dough every single day as well as house-made bread,” Robbie said.
While The Wine Tap name will remain, the Fogarty-Haydens will serve wine by the bottle and glass instead of through a keg and tap system. They expect to have 10 reds and 10 whites by the glass and 15 to 20 each of reds and whites by the bottle. A full bar with craft beers and classic and specialty cocktails also will be offered.
Since early August, the restaurant has undergone an update with new lighting and the walls being repainted.
Robbie said the goal was to play up the “building’s beautiful architecture” and all of hard work Allison Babcock and Dave Nagel put into the space before they opened The Wine Tap 10 years ago.
“We wanted to create the perfect date night experience or night out with a group of friends in a very cozy, relaxed environment,” she said.
Guests can dine outside on the sidewalk and on the main floor. The upstairs dining room will be available for special events for groups of 20 to 45.
The courtyard in the rear, where the brick oven is located,is still being renovated and is expected to be open for diners in a month. It has a retractable roof so it can still be used when the weather turns bad.
This is the first time the couple has owned a restaurant but it’s an idea they had been contemplating.
When they heard the restaurant’s previous owner, Will Luan, was ready to sell The Wine Tap, they immediately stepped up to buy it.
Dan, who grew up in the Signal Hill neighborhood of west Belleville, remembers being impressed by the Public Square fountain when he was a kid.
“Downtown Belleville has been a beautiful place for a longtime,” Dan said. “It’s always held a special place in my heart.
“When the opportunity was brought to us to take over this place and kind of give it our own touch on everything, I jumped on it right away just because I’ve seen what’s been going on here and I feel like it’s headed in a really positive direction.”
Dan has over 10 years of experience in the restaurant business with jobs ranging from dishwasher to manager to DJ. On the music side, he is known as DJ Hal Greens, who spins records on Monday nights at the Atomic Cowboy in St. Louis. Dan said The Wine Tap will have live acts in the restaurant’s courtyard this fall but the performers won’t be “blasting people out” with high volumes.
Dan favors the sounds of soul, jazz, blues and classic rhythm and blues
Robbie, who has marketing experience, said they will use local produce and products wherever possible. For example, most of their meat will come from Schubert’s in Millstadt and their olive oil and white garlic truffle oil will come from the Olive Oil Marketplace located down the block at 18 E. Main St.
The Wine Tap hours will be open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and 5 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday, with the kitchen stopping service an hour before closing time.
For more information, call 618-239-9463 or go to The Wine Tap’s Facebook page or website at thewinetapbelleville.com.