Wine bar fermenting in former Bistro Bobette space in the Slip

The former Bistro Bobette space has been vacant for nearly three years. (Mike Platania photo)

A shuttered French bistro in Shockoe Slip is getting new life, thanks to a Northern Virginia winery.

Echelon Wine Bar is preparing to open in the former Bistro Bobette space at 1209 E. Cary St., its second location.

Behind Echelon are wife-and-husband team Aimee and Todd Henkle, who also own The Vineyards & Winery at Lost Creek, in Leesburg.

In 2020, just days before pandemic lockdowns went into effect, the Henkles opened the first Echelon in downtown Leesburg. Aimee Henkle said they got the idea to open a satellite restaurant from West Coast wineries.

“When we’ve visited California, a lot of wineries and vineyards are out pretty far, so they bring in tasting rooms that are closer in and in the cities, so they can get more visitors exposed to their wines,” she said. “That’s where the idea for Echelon started.”

Todd and Aimee Henkle (Courtesy Echelon Wine Bar)

In addition to hundreds of wines from Lost Creek and elsewhere, Echelon offers a rotating food menu, often with plenty of tapas, salads, steaks and seafood dishes. Some offerings include parmesan grits with brussel sprouts, lobster salad tacos and black garlic gnocchi.

Henkle said the menu at Richmond’s Echelon will be similarly structured.

“We’ll carry close to 300 wines and have 30 wines by the glass,” she said. “And then a small tapas menu. It won’t be the same menu as Leesburg. We’re planning to design cuisine around the area we’re in. We like to use local produce as much as we can.”

Lost Creek opened in 2002 and the Henkles bought it in 2012. Henkle said they’d regularly visit Richmond for Virginia Wine events and other industry trade shows, and that it was on one such trip that they decided to bring Echelon to Richmond.

“We happened to be staying at The Berkeley Hotel and walked to Urban Farmhouse to get coffee. That’s where we sat and we said, ‘We love this street, the cobblestones, the vibe and the feel of Richmond, the history of it,’” Henkle said. “When we put Echelon in (Leesburg), we knew we wanted to do more of them. It was a matter of where the next was.”

Over the summer the Henkles leased the 2,200-square-foot space that’s been vacant since Bistro Bobette closed in 2020 after a roughly eight-year run.

Henkle said they’ve gutted the building and are looking to have it rebuilt and ready to open in spring 2023. Fultz & Singh Architects is designing the new space and M.L. Bell Construction handled demolition of the Bistro Bobette space.

Echelon’s arrival will come months after another wine bar closed its doors in Richmond. Earlier this year, Secco Wine Bar closed in the Fan after over two decades in business. The owners of Italian restaurant Gersi recently opened a new eatery, Uliveto, in Secco’s old space.

The former Bistro Bobette space has been vacant for nearly three years. (Mike Platania photo)

A shuttered French bistro in Shockoe Slip is getting new life, thanks to a Northern Virginia winery.

Echelon Wine Bar is preparing to open in the former Bistro Bobette space at 1209 E. Cary St., its second location.

Behind Echelon are wife-and-husband team Aimee and Todd Henkle, who also own The Vineyards & Winery at Lost Creek, in Leesburg.

In 2020, just days before pandemic lockdowns went into effect, the Henkles opened the first Echelon in downtown Leesburg. Aimee Henkle said they got the idea to open a satellite restaurant from West Coast wineries.

“When we’ve visited California, a lot of wineries and vineyards are out pretty far, so they bring in tasting rooms that are closer in and in the cities, so they can get more visitors exposed to their wines,” she said. “That’s where the idea for Echelon started.”

Todd and Aimee Henkle (Courtesy Echelon Wine Bar)

In addition to hundreds of wines from Lost Creek and elsewhere, Echelon offers a rotating food menu, often with plenty of tapas, salads, steaks and seafood dishes. Some offerings include parmesan grits with brussel sprouts, lobster salad tacos and black garlic gnocchi.

Henkle said the menu at Richmond’s Echelon will be similarly structured.

“We’ll carry close to 300 wines and have 30 wines by the glass,” she said. “And then a small tapas menu. It won’t be the same menu as Leesburg. We’re planning to design cuisine around the area we’re in. We like to use local produce as much as we can.”

Lost Creek opened in 2002 and the Henkles bought it in 2012. Henkle said they’d regularly visit Richmond for Virginia Wine events and other industry trade shows, and that it was on one such trip that they decided to bring Echelon to Richmond.

“We happened to be staying at The Berkeley Hotel and walked to Urban Farmhouse to get coffee. That’s where we sat and we said, ‘We love this street, the cobblestones, the vibe and the feel of Richmond, the history of it,’” Henkle said. “When we put Echelon in (Leesburg), we knew we wanted to do more of them. It was a matter of where the next was.”

Over the summer the Henkles leased the 2,200-square-foot space that’s been vacant since Bistro Bobette closed in 2020 after a roughly eight-year run.

Henkle said they’ve gutted the building and are looking to have it rebuilt and ready to open in spring 2023. Fultz & Singh Architects is designing the new space and M.L. Bell Construction handled demolition of the Bistro Bobette space.

Echelon’s arrival will come months after another wine bar closed its doors in Richmond. Earlier this year, Secco Wine Bar closed in the Fan after over two decades in business. The owners of Italian restaurant Gersi recently opened a new eatery, Uliveto, in Secco’s old space.

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Joshua Bilder
Joshua Bilder
1 month ago

Congratulations to Todd and Amiee! Echelon will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood and The City of Richmond.