A historic building used by Ladder Company 4 of the Detroit Fire Department until 2000 is reborn as Ladder 4 Wine Bar, an elegantly renovated gathering place, event space and wine boutique.
James Cadariu, managing partner and director of wines, bought the 1910 fire station on Vinewood Street from the city in 2015 along with his brother. They started renovating it three years ago, held small parties and a political fundraiser there last year, had a soft opening in mid-December and a public launch four weeks ago.
“We explore the complexity and culture of wine and the stories of the people who produce it in service of our educational mission,” the two state on their website. “We’re fun and not picky.”
The newcomer offers natural wines (produced without pesticides, herbicides or additives) from France, Italy, Spain and sometimes elsewhere, including Romania, Serbia and Hungary, the ancestral region of the owners. It is open three days a week for now, with extended hours planned by summer. The retail store, open for five days, currently has 320 choices.
Plans eventually include live music and food. “It’s a wine bar, but we have 10 burners, three ovens, a grill and a hot plate and a spare double plancha,” Cadariu, a lawyer, posted on Instagram.
To start, a sold-out Hungarian wine dinner takes place on Sunday evening with five wines and a “family feast of traditional regional dishes”.
The spacious Southwest Detroit site can accommodate 300 people over two floors. The cavernous main room where the fire trucks were stationed features a long bar with an espresso machine, booths, a banquette, and the adjacent wine store. There is also a tasting room and an outdoor patio on each level, as well as a lounge area upstairs.
“It’s hard to turn a 1910 building into a completely different use,” Cadariu said wine and beverage writer Matthew Kuhr of East Lansing last summer for a Substack newsletter.
“But it’s really fun to blow up masonry to turn a window into a door. I didn’t know you could do that.
“We also had the impeccable timing to start building right before the pandemic hit. I’m truly having the best time of my life watching it come together. Aesthetics are key. I want to celebrate the splendor that is Detroit… .
“I’m always a fan of keeping the integrity of the building and, in this case, adding enough design to know it’s a wine-focused bar. We have loads of quirky details, the glazed brick on the oak coffered ceiling.”
Anahi Hollis Design’s decor in downtown Detroit mixes vintage-style fixtures with modern fixtures. There’s lots of wood, exposed pipes, and a display-only brass fire pole between levels.
A Ferndale firm, Five-Eighths, did the architectural work and acted as general contractor.
In his 2021 interview with Kuhr, Cadariu said the brothers “will take their time with the food. You can expect an experience-based meal like a giant cauldron of goulash or roast lamb.”
Schedule a visit:
Or: 3396 Vinewood St., near West Grand Boulevard near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (map)
Car park: Street spaces on Vinewood
Hours: Bar, 4pm-10pm from Thursday to Saturday | Boutique, 1pm-7pm Tuesday to Wednesday; 1pm-10pm, Thursday to Saturday
Health and security: Mandatory mask and vaccination record
Retail offers: 321 varieties listed here with prices
Call: (313) 638-1601
E-mail: [email protected]